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Moqueca (Brazilin Fish Stew)

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 July 2015 at 19:56
In my never-ending search for great seafood soups and stews I came across a reference to Moqueca, an iconic dish from Brazil.

Moqueca (pronounced moe key kah) originated in the northern Brazilian state of Bahia, and spread rapidly from there, evolving as it traveled. In its southward journey is lost the coconut milk, which is an integral part of traditional Bahian versions.

There are an incredible number of Moqueca recipes. Most combine fresh, white-fleshed fish with shrimp. Some use just the fish, or just the shrimp, alone. And some add additional seafood, such as squid and octopus. So the choices, and room for experimentation, are considerable.

For my first attempt I decided to go with a Bahian version. Coconut milk is a great addition to almost any seafood stew, and I wonder why it was dropped? For the fish component I went with mahi-mahi, for no other reason than it was on sale, locally. Turns out this was a perfect choice. I also opted to go with squid, both because we love it, and, again, for economic reasons. Wild caught squid were on sale, locally, for only $2.50/pound. Sure, I had to take the time to clean them. But I’ll trade time for money any day of the week.

If palm oil isn’t available, and you don’t want to mail order it, merely sub extra virgin olive oil. But if you do you’ll miss out on the beautiful red hue it imparts to the dish. I actually found it in the organic foods section of a local supermarket---which surprised the hell out of me. So I suspect it’s becoming more readily available, probably due to the influence of sub-Saharan African food, which is becoming very popular.

For my version, I examined about a half-dozen recipes, and took what I perceived to be the best aspects of each. There is, to be sure, a great commonality of ingredients, mostly changing by amounts used. But there is some ingredient variation as well, enough to make things interesting.

I would make only one change, and that would be to double the amount of red chili used. Although the stew wasn’t particularly bland, a little kicking up, and felt, would not be out of order.

Moqueca is typically served with rice, and that’s the way we had it. But it would be just as good eaten as a soup.

Here’s the version I made:



MOQUECA
(Brazilian Fish Stew)


1 ½ lb firm white fish, cut in 2” chunks
10 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
10 oz squid rings (optional)
2 cups fish stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, cut in rings and cut in half
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in rings and cut in half
1 green bell pepper, cut in rings and cut in half
3 plum (roma) tomatoes, sliced in rounds
2 small onions, cut in rings
Juice of a large lime
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, well smashed
1 red chili, chopped, divided use
4 tbls broad leaf parsley leaves, divided use
2 tbls palm oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl large enough to hold the fish, combine the lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the fish and let marinate, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Season the shrimp and squid with salt and pepper.

Heat the palm oil and fry the chopped onion until browned. Remove pot from heat. Layer half the raw onions, pepper rings and tomatoes in the pot. Add the marinated fish as close to a single layer as possible, drizzling the fish with any leftover marinade. Sprinkle with half the parsley and chilies. Layer the rest of the onions, peppers and tomatoes on top of the fish. Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and chili. Pour in the fish stock and coconut milk.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, 24-30 minutes until veggies are cooked through. Add the shrimp and cook three minutes. Add the squid and cook two minutes more.



But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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gonefishin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 July 2015 at 21:11
    Wow, nice looking stew!  sounds interesting...thanks for posting!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 July 2015 at 06:56
It does make a good looking, as well as good tasting, stew, Dan.

It's almost Asian, in that the heavy lifting is in the prep work. Once that's done it all but cooks itself. I made some amendments in that regard. For instance, most recipes leave the peppers in rings. Maybe our bells are larger? I dunno. But if you leave them whole they wind up as long, stringy sorts of things, awkward to eat. Halving them solves that problem.

If you look at original recipes, check the timing, too. One that I examined had you add the shrimp and squid rings and cook them 15 minutes. I guarantee that would result in overcooked shrimp and little rubber gaskets.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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