Currently, I am in a place of transition, and am moving to Duluth, MN, leaving Chicago. A couple weeks ago, my father drove down from Sauk Rapids along with my mum and uncle. The move went great, but it left me kitchenless and reliant on friends. Truly I am thankful for their friendship and hospitality (Chris, Amy, Lynsey and Brian). As one last girls night with some of my closest Chicagoan friends, I asked to share one last meal. With the gloomy weather and chill in the air, I decided to express myself through a Brazilian fish stew (Moqueca Capixaba).
Six years ago, I moved to Chicago from a 3-month journey, primarily exploring Brazil. One of the worst snow storms hit the city as I arrived to the states, leaving me stranded. I knew I needed a new scene where I could grow professionally in both passions, food and nutrition, so I decided to stay. Soon I found a cheap apartment in Uptown, northern Chicago, and made it home. To bring this story full circle, I found it fitting to prepare a dish from my travels, which brought me to Chicago.
Moqueca Capixaba is a traditional fish stew from Bahia, Brazil with fish (cod, sea bass, shrimp), tomatoes, lime, peppers and coconut. Traditionally, it is cooked in a claypot, but was originally made in banana leaves many years ago. Slowly the stew evolved as the Spanish and Portuguese colonized Bahia, who later introduced the garlic, onions and cilantro.
Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca Capixaba)
1.5 lbs fish (cod, sea bass, shrimp) - cleaned and cut into 1" cubes if using filets
32 oz. tomatoes crushed or 5 fresh tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
32 oz. coconut water
1 large onion, cut into thin half-moons
2 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil is fine)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 fresno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 limes, 1 juiced & 1 cut into wedges for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cilantro, fresh for garnish
2 green onions sliced for garnish
Serve with cooked rice
I chose to cook my rice in coconut water with diced yellow onion. When the rice was cooked, I mixed in cilantro before serving.
1. In a large, heated pot, sautéed your onion in coconut oil. Once translucent, add garlic, bell and hot peppers, and spices.
2. Add the coconut water, tomatoes, tomato paste, and juice of one lime to the pot. Mix well and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
3. Adjust the heat to a simmer and add the fish. Larger cuts of fish will take longer (cod, sea bass) and will need 20-30 minutes while smaller crustaceans (shrimp) only require 5-8 minutes depending on size.
4. Assemble the garnish plate and cook rice (optional) on the side.
Note: you may substitute the coconut water with coconut milk for a richer flavor, add different hot peppers or adjust the consistency. If you prefer a thinner stew, add less liquid/coconut water and if you prefer a thicker stew, adjust and add more.
Recipes are guidelines, and you're the cook! Make it your own and adjust as you desire