Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brazilian Fish Stew

I can hear the jokes now--"wow, that's a lot of fish!"

This recipe comes from an odd little specialty cookbook I picked up, oh, ages and ages ago, called On Rice. It's short, and one of the most heavily used books I have. I do an awful lot of one-dish cooking, as you may have noticed, and there was a time when I did even more, because we had this teeny tiny apartment stove on which it was difficult to place more than two pans at one time. (This may be where my side dish blindness set in.) Last week I had the book out on the counter for some reason, D* flipped through it a bit and said, "Maybe we could have this sometime?" Always on the lookout for ideas that will fill the latter half of the week, when both my inspiration and my energy tend to be running low, I was happy to put it on the menu.

2 lb cod, scrod, or haddock fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 16-oz can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 c homemade fish stock or bottled clam juice
2/3 c canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground red pepper

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the fish and the lime juice. Set aside to marinate while preparing the sauce.
  2. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, about five minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, stock, coconut milk, and cilantro. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the fish and marinating juices. Cook, uncovered, until fish is opaque and firm, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and ground red pepper. 
  5. Serve over rice. (They recommend coconut rice or steamed medium-grain rice.)

This dish felt unbalanced; even the pound and a half of fish that I bought turned out to be more than I think was really needed. If I make this again, I will cut the fish down to 1 pound and perhaps add some more vegetables.

I quite liked the ground red pepper, which worked with the coconut milk to give a relatively subtle heat. The recipe makes 4-6 servings, depending on appetites and what else you're serving with it. We had challah, which is entirely outside the cuisine, obviously, but also always good, and which will be the subject of another post I hope. On the whole, this didn't blow me away, but it's something I would be happy to make again should a space labeled "fish" come up on the menu.

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