Over the years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with Brazil (despite the fact that I have never been there.)
Things I Hate About Brazil:
1) They stole our Olympics! I had glorious visions of bringing my futuristic Jetson-like family of 2016 to see the Olympics in my hometown, Chicago. With Obama and Oprah both lobbying for the Windy City, I thought we were a shoe in, but NO.
Watch your backs, Rio. No one %$#@s with Oprah.
2) They charge $200 to set foot in their country. When I was at Iguazu Falls in Argentina two months ago, I could literally see across the river into both Paraguay and Brazil. All I wanted was to take a short boat across so that I could claim Brazil for my Facebook travel map, but NO. I was not going to pay that ridiculous visa.
Get over yourself, Brazil. $200? Really?
3) Brazilians are just too attractive for their own damn good. (You're welcome, gentlemen readers of this blog).
Things I Love About Brazil:
1) Brazilians are just too attractive for their own damn good. (Like Madonna's recent boy toy, aptly named Jesus):
2) Every Brazilian I have ever met is incredibly friendly, nice, and full of life. Case in point: the lovely Brazilian ladies Megan and I spent New Year's with in Montevideo:
3) Brazilian food.
This brings me to today's blog post. My first amazing experience with Brazilian food was at one of their rodizio style restaurants in North Carolina, where they bring you endless cuts of meat on swords. Who wouldn't like that?!
My second experience with Brazilian food was when I visited my friend Phil in Miami. His mother is Brazilian, and she took us to a great restaurant where I had a delicious moqueca de peixe, or fish stew.
I dug around for some recipes online to try to recreate this dish, and it turned out AMAZING, if I do say so myself! Tons of flavor, and very unique tasting. Great to try if you want to break out of your boring dinner routine.
- 3-4 fillets of tilapia. Depends on how hungry you are and how big the fillets are. If you have an even firmer white fish such as cod or halibut, all the better.
- 1 onion
- 2 green onions. I included these cause I love green onion, but I honestly don't think they added a whole lot to the stew. If you have them, throw 'em in. If not, no worries!
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro. If you are one of those people who despise cilantro, I suppose you could leave it out. But it adds wonderful South American flavor and color.
- 1 can diced tomatoes. Do not drain.
- 1 can lite coconut milk. Obviously you can use regular if you want to, ya fatty.
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 3 tbsp. lime juice. I used the bottled kind, but use fresh if you have it!
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1.5 tsp. paprika
- 1.5 tsp. chile powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Drizzle of olive oil. Real moqueca uses dende, or palm oil, but I couldn't find this stuff ANYWHERE! Oh well.
You can eat this served over rice, or just out of a bowl like I did. This makes enough for 2-3 people, so feel free to adjust quantities accordingly, or just enjoy the leftovers!
Cut your fish fillets into large chunks and lay them out in a single layer in a small dish or tray to marinate (you could also put them in a plastic bag). Keeping the pieces fairly large will help them to hold together during the cooking process.
Time to make your marinade! Mix together the lime juice, minced garlic, cumin, paprika, chile powder, and salt. Pretty colors, ooooh.....
Now it's time to get your hands dirty and pungent. Pour the marinade over the fish, and toss it together so the fish is well coated in the spices. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, and up to a couple hours.
I wouldn't do much longer than that though cause the acidity of the lime juice will actually start to "cook" the fish and make it fall apart (this is how people make ceviche...fun fact!)
Peel your onion and slice it up. If you are using green onion and cilantro, chop them up nice and fine.
Heat a large pot or high-sided skillet (make sure it comes with a lid!) to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and cook your onions until they are soft and translucent.
Add your green onion, cilantro, and can of diced tomatoes with the juice. Let the mixture simmer together for a couple minutes.
Add your can of coconut milk, the fish, and the marinade. Stir everything together well.
Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pieces of fish are opaque and flake easily. Your house will smell like a sexy Brazilian beach vacation.
Ladle some of that delicious stew into a bowl, garnish with some fresh cilantro and lime wedges, and dig in!