Moqueca de Camarao e Peixe
Shrimp and Fish Stew
There’s some controversy over where the Moqueca, a Brazilian fish stew, originated. It is said to have originated in the State of Bahia where the dish is most reported to be consumed. But the State of Espirito Santo also claims to have created the dish. One thing is certain. The Bahian version includes Azeite de Dende and Coconut Milk and this is what gives the stew the best taste. Azeite de Dende is the oil of an African Palm Tree’s fruit, the Dende fruit. It is a heavy and strong-tasting oil. Dende Oil can be found in Brazilian Specialty Markets. You can omit the Dende Oil and only include the Coconut Milk, if you wish. Clay pots are used to prepare these types of stews. Recipe courtesy of my mom.
Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil in the pot. Add at least one tablespoon minced garlic and a healthy heap of chopped onions. When the onions and garlic are lightly golden (careful not to burn them), add chopped red bell pepper, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, chopped cilantro, parsley, green onion and tomato paste.
Allow this to cook (simmer) until the ingredients are incorporated and have taken a red color. You will still see the green spices (about 40 minutes). The consistency will be similar to that of pasta sauce. Season with salt and red chili peppers to taste. The chili peppers are an important ingredient in this dish and are added to most Bahian dishes.
Carefully add seasoned fish steaks or filets (use a fish that holds well and doesn’t break). Cook for about 10-15 minutes. The pot will be barely simmering. Add the shrimp and bring to a simmer for a little longer, until shrimp turns pink and the fish is fully cooked, approximately 20 minutes. During this process do not stir the contents of the pot so that the fish remains intact. When the shrimp is ready, add one can of coconut milk and allow the milk to heat. Serve immediately, accompanied by white rice and a baguette or bread for dipping.