Recipe: Brazilian Moqueca
Eating Feijoada surrounded by half-naked samba dancers in tonight’s Rio episode of Bizarre Foods was a dream come true. We found some unusual hidden gems from deep in the Amazon jungle, I ate an old critter from the sea and I got to tour Rhocina, one of the most notorious slums in the world. We went into the den of the narco-traffickers to taste foods that come from the deep interior of the country, where young people emigrate every day looking for a better start in the big city. They bring their culture with them, including some amazing chow. Watching heavily armed gunmen shake us down and search us prior to entering the heavily militarized area was something I will never forget. Once in, we had an amazing eating day. Some shows are just like that.
Anyway, while sitting around the living room, try this delicious meal in a bowl. It’s a traditional moqueca that has the cashew butter added. To some, this makes it a vatapa, but to me that is splitting hairs. You can make this as varied as there are fish in the sea and many restaurants in Brazil make theirs with cuttlefish, many species of crab/crays/langoustes etc. I can’t guarantee that half naked girls and gangsters will show up, but who knows?
Brazilian Moqueca…Fish, Shrimp and Mussel Soup
1# whole shrimp (16 count work great)
1# Mussels… big, fat, plump New Zealand Green Lip mussels or Mediterranean balck mussels work best
1# Halibut, grouper, snapper or cod filets or steaks
2T lime juice, plus more for seasoning
2T vegetable oil
3 Thai bird chiles or 1 habanero chile
6 cloves garlic minced
2 onions, sliced thin
2T tomato paste
1 cup coconut milk
2T cashew nut butter
4T minced cilantro leaves
2 cups shrimp or shellfish stock
Marinate the fish for 1 hour in half the lime juice. Pat dry and lightly brown over high heat in the oil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, herbs and spices. Saute briefly and when glassy add the tomato paste. Stir, and add the shellfish stock and bring to a boil. Remove the fish and let rest on a plate, continue to boil the stock. After stock has reduced by 1/3, add the coconut milk and simmer until soup has thickened. Add the shrimp and cover, cooking for a minute or so to cook shrimp through. Add the fish and mussels back to the pot, cook until mussels have opened. Season with salt and lime juice, swirl in the cashew butter and serve.