Every coastal region has a cultural version of a fish soup or fisherman’s stew, bouillabaisse of Provence, cotriade of Brittany, brodetto of Italy, halászlé of Hungary, cioppino of San Fransico, Bostonian “chowda” and Moqueca of Brazil.
For our last week of Fish Friday we thought, let’s make it spicy and tangy. We choose moqueca [“mo-KEH-kah”], a bright red fish stew with plenty of heat, served with fragrant rice. This dish is easy to prepare and serve, allowing you, the host, to join the dinner conversation. Moqueca is made with coastal salt water fish in a tomato sauce of onions, garlic, coriander, coconut milk and dendê oil. The fish stew is slowly cooked in a clay pot. Variations of the dish use prawns and a mix of boneless fish species, such as, snapper, small shark or sword fish. Moqueca is made bright red by the dendê oil [palm oil], which adds a special authentic flavor to this dish. You can find palm oil at Brazilian markets and online. Brazilians have been making moqueca for at least 300 years.
Our version is made with salmon, making the dish richer in flavour, which brings to thought, a wine paring. We chose a Cabernet Franc from Brazil, Casa Valduga Cabernet Franc Premium 2007, a great accompaniment to meatier or spiced dishes. Another variation of our dish is the peppers and onions are diced, rather than sliced and layered. Sautéing the mirepoix makes a lovely rich and savoury broth. This version also has paprika and red pepper flakes, adding a nice layer of heat, não!. Traditionally the dish is made in a clay pot which is served on the table, you can make the fish stew in a stockpot or simmering pan with perfectly delicious results.
How to Make
1 1/2 pounds salmon, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 T grape-seed oil
1 cup yellow onion, diced in 1-inch pieces
1 cup red bell peppers, diced in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin
1 T paprika
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t ground cumin
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup dendê oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Marinate the salmon in the minced garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper for 30 minutes to an hour. In a stock pot or simmering pan, heat 2 tablespoons grape-seed oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onions and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the bell peppers and cook another 2 minutes. Add the green onions, paprika, chili flakes and cumin and sauté for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and cilantro and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the salmon from the marinade (discard marinade), and place the fish into the tomato sauce in the stock pot. Pour the coconut milk and dendê oil over the top, bring everything to a simmer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Stir gently, once or twice. Salmon should be just cooked and tender. sprinkle top with chopped cilantro for added colour and flavour.
Entertaining Thoughts for your Friday evening xoxo
Brazilians cook in a clay pot [Panela de Barro]. The pots are made from a mixture of clay and mangrove tree sap. After the pots are shaped and dried, they are put in a bonfire. While still hot, sap is re-applied, which seals and blackens the clay and makes it water resistant. Dendê oil