Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brazilian Fish Stew

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – October 26, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published on Daily Dish e-zine.

There’s nothing better in fall than a hearty soup or stew in the fall.  I had been looking for a fish soup for a while, specifically one that had more than a simple broth base.  Not a big fan of those – it tastes like fish water to me.  This recipe appealed to me because it had coconut and tomato base.  If you’ve never cooked with coconut milk, you’re really missing something.  I know it looks a little on the “icky” side, but it is a rich broth that really enhances the flavor

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

© Taste of Home

The picture from AllRecipes wasn’t professionally taken (visitors can submit their own pictures of dishes that they make) so it is a little fuzzy looking.  From what I can tell, it looks about the same, although their picture looks a little creamier than mine, but that’s probably because one of the ingredient changes I made.  I don’t know if that makes a difference or not, because the one I made tasted delicious.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH –You have to chop up some onions and slice some bell peppers which aren’t too much work, but the raw fish – ugh, the “juice” gets everywhere and my hands get dried out from the continual washing.

Start-to-Finish Time: UNDER AN HOUR – If you marinate the minimum, this dish certainly can be done in under an hour.  I let my fish marinate overnight (which I would recommend), so I had about 10 minutes of prep – and that’s being generous –mixed up the marinade and I was done until the next day.  The actual cooking of the stew is a fairly easy, fast and hands-off.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – No precision cutting, just chop up a couple vegetables and the fish and – voila – you’re done!  However, I must admit, I usually cut myself when I’m chopping up bell peppers.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – Nothing out of the ordinary here.  It contains easy-to-find ingredients, your run-of-the-mill equipment and cooking techniques that you learn early and master quickly.

OverallYUMMY – If my husband is craving a fish stew, this will immediately jump into my mind.  I know the leftovers were gone within days and even thinking about it now is making my mouth water.  I think I have some tilapia in the freezer!

Recipe Information:
Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Marinating Time: 20 minutes to 24 hours
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Nutritional Information
  • Calories 359
  • Total Fat 21.8g
  • Cholesterol 42mg
  • Sodium 600mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 15.6g
  • Fiber 4.8g
  • Protein 27.4g

I’d say that 6 servings is fairly accurate.  Some of the recommendations said serve it over rice (choose brown for the healthy option) or to serve with tortillas.  You probably could stretch it out to 8 by serving it over rice.  As for the calories, coconut milk can add some fat and calories, but I used the no-fat version to help slim it down a little.

Changes denoted by red text

3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ pounds tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 large bell peppers (green, yellow and/or red), sliced
1 can (16 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (16 ounces) no-fat coconut milk
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Ingredient Notes:
Lime Juice – to get 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, you’ll need about 1½ lime.  Keep the remaining ½ lime to serve with the stew if you like a little more citrus in your food.  Don’t feel like juicing your own limes?  You can find pre-squeezed lime juice in the produce section.

Tilapia – Tilapia is a lean and firm textured fish and is readily available pretty much everywhere you go.  If you’ve got other fish stinkin’ up your fridge, you can substitute any of the following:  red snapper, bass, flounder, sole, orange roughy or ocean perch.

Olive Oil – should you use your really expensive extra-virgin olive oil or not.  Since it is not the focus of the dish and is used as a cooking medium, don’t waste your good olive oil stash.  The cheap(er) stuff works just fine.

Bell Peppers
  • The recipe doesn’t specify what type of bell peppers to use, so I chose a blend of different peppers.  Want to know the difference?  According to Cook’s Thesaurus, red and yellow peppers are riper, more flavorful and more expensive than the green.  I picked up a green and red.
  • The original recipe calls for 4 bell peppers.  Although we enjoy a bell pepper, they aren’t our favorite, so I cut it down to 2, which was still quite a bit.
  • When I sliced the peppers, I felt the pieces were still a little large, so I cut the slices in half to make them smaller.

Coconut Milk
  • This is “milk” is non-dairy, so if you are lactose intolerant, you won’t have any issues with this dish. 
  • You can find this in the Asian section of your local supermarket (look with the Japanese or Thai foods), but make sure you don’t confuse it with coconut water.  They aren’t the same thing.  I couldn’t really find any substitutes for it, so in the event you can’t find coconut milk near you, but there are a lot of do-it-yourself recipes out there.
  • I selected the light-Coconut Milk instead of the full fat version.  Full fat tastes and looks a little richer, so that is probably why my stew didn’t look as creamy.  The light version definitely gave it the flavor it needed, so don’t worry if you need or want to use it.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
(2) Sharp knives
Raw food cutting board
Medium bowl
Spoon - mixing
Plastic wrap
Large pot with lid
Large spoon

Equipment Notes:
Cutting Board & Raw Meat Cutting Board – to avoid contamination, make sure you use two separate cutting boards to prepare your vegetables and raw fish.  Remember, it is not advised to use a wooden cutting board to cut up raw meat.  The wood can absorb the raw meat juices and contaminate it.

Sharp Knives – Just as with the cutting boards, I chose to use two separate knives.  Of course, you can get away with one knife, but do not use the same knife to cut the raw fish and then vegetables unless it has been properly washed first.

Medium Bowl – Make sure it is large enough to hold the cut up fish and make sure plastic wrap will adhere to it.

Large Pot with Lid – It needs to be larger than a saucepan.  If you don’t have anything that size, use your Dutch oven.

(1)  Stir together the lime juice, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

(2)  Add the tilapia and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours.  I highly recommend preparing the marinade and fish in the evening and marinating overnight.  Some of the comments talked about the fish/stew not having enough flavor.  I think it is because the fish didn't have enough time in the marinade.

(3)  Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

(4)  Quickly fry the onions in the oil 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.

(5)  Add the bell peppers, tilapia, and diced tomatoes to the pot in succeeding layers.

(6)  Pour the coconut milk over the mixture. Cover the pot and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

(7)  Stir in the cilantro and continue cooking until the tilapia is completely cooked through, another 5 to 10 minutes.  I chose not to add the cilantro to the stew.  If you like a little more kick, make sure you don’t skip this step.

Overall this was a nice hearty soup for a cool fall day.  I’m not really sure why you’d need to serve it over rice, because I felt this was a thick enough dish to stand on its own.  I served it with nice crusty bread and a small salad and called it a meal.

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