One of the dishes Northern Brazil is known for is their "Moqueca", a delicious savory fish stew made with a local white fish, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and coconut milk.
Several years ago a Brazilian friend of mine introduced to me a salmon version of this stew she had improvised, given that the typical Brazilian fish used for moqueca isn't found around here.
It was so good I begged Fernanda for the recipe, which she translated into English for me. (By the way, you can't get local salmon in Brazil, so this is really not an authentic moqueca, but a Northern California interpretation.)
What is surprising about the recipe's method is that you simmer the stew for a good 30 minutes at least. For those of us who love fish and seafood we know that fish and long cooking times do not go well together. The exception is this stew. It requires simmering the stew well past the point of of cooking the salmon, but it works!
The result is a rich, coconut creamy, deeply flavored stew.
The salmon is marinated first with lime juice, paprika, and cumin, and then simmered with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, in coconut milk.
The stew is even better the next day, after the flavors have had more time to meld. You can also easily freeze the soup (see How to Freeze Soup, Beans, and Broth). The soup reheats beautifully!
Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)
- The cloves from 1/2 head of garlic, peeled, crushed, minced
- 2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
- 3/4 teaspoon of coarse salt
- 1 Tablespoon of sweet paprika
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of salmon, cut into 2-inch pieces (largish-bite sized pieces)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, and sliced
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 14-ounce can regular (not light) coconut milk
- 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, 1-2 cups
Mix together the marinade ingredients. Let the salmon marinate in this paste for at least 2 hours. The longer, the better.
Layer ingredients in a large pot:
In a large pan (large covered skillet or Dutch oven), coat the bottom of the pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add a layer of sliced onions, and then a layer of sliced bell peppers, and a layer of sliced tomatoes.
Place the fish pieces, with the marinade, on top of everything, and start layering again—onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Top with cilantro, coconut milk, olive oil:
Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add about half of your fresh cilantro to the top.
Pour coconut milk over the top. Drizzle generously with olive oil over the top (several tablespoons).
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are cooked through.
Garnish with remaining cilantro.