Moqueca Baiana

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Last night was great. My Brazilian crew (Fabiola, Lenicio, Lusimar & Andre) and the other international folks (Karine & Claudine) threw me a surprise birthday party. They also taught me how to make Moqueca Baiana. This was a BIG deal for me. I actually tried making moqueca last spring using salmon filets, but wasn’t terribly impressed by my efforts, but I was SUPER impressed yesterday.
Lenicio explained that there are two different types of moqueca, the one from the Bahia state (which is where he is from) and Moqueca Capixaba, from the southeast. The big difference between the two is that the Moqueca Baiana uses palm oil (dendê) and the Moqueca Capixaba does not.

It’s really not a hard dish to make, the most work to do involves chopping the veggies, other than that, you just put the lid on and let it cook.

PS Thanks again to Lenicio for all his tips on how to make a great moqueca and to Fabiola for chopping all the vegetables before I got there. It was a GREAT party guys and I’ll try to get the recipes up for the Pirao de peixe and the great bday cake you made Karine!

So onto the essential ingredients for all moquecas

For 6 to 8 people

2.250 kg Fish steaks (bones in). We used whiting, but halibut, tuna, and other hearty
fish that can be stewed would work too.

3 limes, juiced

1 tablespoon of colorau de urucum (a natural colourant used in Brazilian
cuisine, similar to the use of paparika in Portuguese cuisine)

1 teaspoon palm oil

3 teaspoons olive oil

5 Bell peppers, roughly chopped (we used 2 yellow, 2 red and 1 orange)

3 Medium sized onions, roughly chopped

6 Medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomatoe paste

3 pimento de cheiro (literally “the smelly pepper,” they are very fragrant,
are yellow in colour and about the size of a grape. Available in Portuguese
or Brazilian food markets)

1 can coconut milk (NOT the one for baking)

1 bunch of fresh cilanto, finely chopped. Also chop a handful of the cilantro
stems and put aside

Tools –> A dutch oven, if you have one. We used a clay wok which also worked. You want to use something that will retain its heat so that you can simmer the stew at a lower temperature.

1. Marinade the fish steaks with salt, pepper, colorau de urucum and the juice from the lines. You can let the fish hang out while you chop the veggies. About 1- 2 hours (if you have the time)

2. Heat the pot on the stove top and then add the olive oil and palm oil. Add the chopped garlic and the handful of chopped cilantro stems. This is going to infuse the oil with all that flavour and your kitchen is going to smell AWESOME 🙂

3. Being careful not to let the garlic burn, layer about half the fish steaks on top of the frying garlic and then layer about half the chopped vegetable mixture on top of the fish, then another layer of the veggies. Keep in mind that the number of layers you have depends on the size of your pot. Lower the heat to medium.
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4. Add the tomato paste, and pimento de cheiro on top of your last vegetable layer. Cover the pot and do let simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. Don’t mix anything, just let the fish and veggies get to know one another, undisturbed 🙂

5. By this time, your house is going to smell like a sea side restaurant and your guests mouths are going to be watering. Carefully add the coconut milk and sprinkle the top of the dish with all that chopped cilantro. Remember to taste for salt before taking the pot to the table!

6. Serve with rice, more fresh cilantro and Pirao de Peixe (recipe yet to be written and posted)

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