This is my mom’s simplified recipe to a rather complex Brazilian dish known as “Moqueca de Peixe” which has a rough translation of “stew” given the fillets of fish within a juicy thickened sauce. I LOVE this dish, and it was the first that I warmed up to when I started eating fish.
Believe it or not, I didn’t like fish at all until I was well into adulthood, or anything greens for that matter. I wasn’t always a healthy eater, or a good eater, so if I could warm up to this, I bet even your pickiest eater could!
If you’re one of those with an aversion to cilantro (you know who you are, and most of us don’t think it tastes like soap :), but we won’t trash talk! You can always use parsley instead, as it will go nicely with the flavors.
For the shrimp lovers, you may add it to the stew for a touch of sophistication or just enjoy it without! It really doesn’t matter because the end result is a fantastic mixture of flavors within sauce it creates.
BRAZILIAN STYLE “FISH STEW” or SIMPLIFIED “MOQUECA DE PEIXE”
- 8-10 pieces of white flaky fish like cod or tilapia
- The juice of 1 large lime, or 2 small
- 3 large garlic cloves, or 5 small smashed
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- Paprika powder
- A bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- Black pepper and salt to taste
- Optional: Red pepper flakes (for the finish)
- Optional: 8-10 shrimp
- Smash the garlic cloves and take the juice of 1 or 2 limes. Wash and dry the white flaky, I used a mixture of tilapia and cod.
- Marinate 8-10 pieces of fish (and shrimp, if using) with smashed garlic cloves, lime juice, black pepper and salt to taste, for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
- Prep the veggies: Chop the shallot, chop the tomatoes, cut up the bell peppers and roughly chop the fresh cilantro. Yes, you may use dried cilantro.
- In a wok or large frying pan make a ‘bed’ with the chopped bell pepper, shallot and tomato, and 1/2 bunch of cilantro. Set aside 1/4 cup of the ‘mixture’ for later. Set heat to low-medium.
- Place fish over the top and marinade juices over the top of everything, Sprinkle paprika to taste over the top to added color and sass (yes, this is a sassy dish!). Cover and let it sweat over until it starts to gently simmer, about 5-7 minutes.
- If using shrimp, pan sear marinated shrimp in a small frying pan using 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside and add to the fish stew after step 8.
- Add remaining mixture over the top and cover it yet again. Cook for another 7-10 minutes (total cooking time should be between 12-15 minutes or 15-20 depending on the thickness of the fish and/or power in your stovetop). From experience, electric stoves seem to cook a bit slower and require a little more time.
- Once fish is flaky and it is cooked through, and the juices or sauce should be thickened. Sprinkle some more fresh chopped cilantro over the top and sprinkle red pepper flakes over the finished product.
This dish goes amazingly well: with white rice, sweet potatoes mash, garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes, baked butternut squash or anything with a creamy substance to balance out the spicy bites. This time we had sweet potato mash and I think it’s a match made in heaven! I hope you LOVE this dish as much as I learned to. This is basically how I learned to enjoy fish, so it’s a great way to introduce it to someone in your life who likes some flavor and kick, but may need a little help appreciating a good fish dish! If you’re already a fish lover, you’re in heaven!!
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