Recipe: Nair’s Moqueca (Sea Bass) Bahai-Style

Here’s another recipe from my Brazilian chef friend Nair. I like how the seafood in this Moqueca recipe gets three different styles of preparation—acid marinade, sauteeing and stovetop stewing. Serves 8.

2 lbs fillets of sea bass, mahi mahi or other firm-fleshed fish
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 c onions, coarsely chopped
1 c tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (Nair says it’s okay to use canned tomatoes)
2 fresh malagueta chiles seeded with stems removed (can substitute cayenne, piquins or red Serrano—a little bit of spicy red pepper to add color and heat)
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz can coconut milk
3 T lemon juice
2 1/2 Tbs azeite de dende (palm oil—or substitute ½ c extra virgin olive oil)*
2 t cilantro, chopped
2 T parsley, chopped
2 T green onion, sliced crosswise including some of the green
1 t grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Cut the fish into serving-size pieces. Make an herbal mixture of chiles, cilantro, parsley and ginger. Marinate fish and shrimp in lemon juice, half the herbs and salt in pepper for 1 hour in refrigerator. Heat oil in a large skillet and add shrimp; sauté for about 3 minutes until pink. Remove shrimp and reserve. Add onion and garlic to the same skillet and sauté until tender but not crisp.

Combine the fish, onions, tomatoes and remaining herbs and cook, covered, on stovetop for about 20 minutes or until fish is tender. Remove from heat and rest for 20 minutes. Add shrimp and coconut; return to stove and bring to a simmer, then turn off heat and let rest 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite fresh vegetables and rice pilaf.

  • Aziete de dende is a red palm oil that has a unique color and flavor. If unavailable, substitute olive oil and consider adding some annatto (possibly steeped in that oil in advance) to provide red color but not the flavor. You might also try coconut oil, another palm oil that’s solid at room temperature.
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