Not sure why took me so long to blog about Moqueca, after all this is one of the most traditional Brazilian dishes.
It is a seafood stew original from the native people of Brazil, slowly cooked on a clay-pot and made with some of the freshest ingredients that our land and sea have to offer.
The dish evolved during the Colonial Brazil times when the Portuguese brought coconuts to the country (and planted the coconut trees along all our coast in replacement for the prime wood that was taken), while the African slaves introduced Palm Oil to our culinary.
The two variations of dish are the Moqueca Baiana (from the northeast State of Bahia) and the Moqueca Capixaba (from the Southeast State of Espirito Santo). The difference between the two is that coconut milk and palm oil are only used in the Baiana recipe.
People from both States claim for the dish invention but I absolutely love both of them and honestly think that they are so different that shouldn’t even be compared.
Although it is a stew, this dish can be enjoyed year-round so whenever you happen to be in Brazil, make sure you find a restaurant that serves a good Moqueca.
Seafood Moqueca Baiana
I’ve been cooking this dish for years and there is no real science behind it: easy to make and you can adapt the measurements accordingly to whatever you have available.
This might sound a bit controversial but I have a Capixaba clay-pot that I actually use to make Moqueca Baiana.
4 cutlets of Blue Eye Cod (or any firm fish with similar texture)
300 g prawns, head removed
300 g calamari, cut in rings
500 ml fish stock
200 ml coconut milk
1 red capsicum, sliced in rings
1 yellow capsicum, sliced in rings
1 green capsicum, sliced in rings
3 tomatoes, sliced in rings
2 small onions, sliced in rings
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lime
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tbsp palm oil
chopped parsley for garnishing
Place the fish cutlets into a bowl. Season it with lime juice, salt, ground pepper, and garlic. Reserve it for 20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, season prawns and calamari with salt and pepper.
Heat the palm oil in the clay-pot and fry the chopped onion until golden brown. Remove the pot from heat.
Layer half of the raw onions, capsicums, tomatoes in the clay-pot.
Add all the marinated fish pieces over the layered vegetables and drizzle it with any leftover marinade.
Sprinkle it with half of the parsley and red chillies.
Layer the rest of the onions, capsicums and tomatoes on top of the fish cutlets. Sprinkle it with the rest of parsley and red chillies.
Pour coconut milk and fish stock into the clay-pot.
Bring mixture to a boil, simmer it gently covered for 15 minutes.
Add the calamari rings and prawns. Stir it gently and simmer it for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are well-cooked.
Serve with rice and toasted manioc flour (farofa de dende)