I mentioned in my previous Brazilian Mojito post that the husband and I honeymooned in Brazil. We had such an incredible time in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite part of our trip was when we ventured a few hours north to the beaches of Buzios. We stayed in this beautiful little boutique hotel called “casas brancas,” which translates to “white houses.” These pictures show the door to our room – it felt perfectly tropical.
In the morning we would wake up and walk out onto the most beautiful balcony with a truly incredible view of the bay.
Here’s the husband checking out the boats early in the morning. Look how clear that water is!
On our second morning there we decided to rent a boat for the day and go check out some of the coves and beaches. This really lovely local couple took us out on their boat and told us all about the history of the town and beaches, and made us some lovely Caipirinhas to sip as we cruised around.
The water was so incredibly warm, clear, and blue – we snorkeled around and saw all sorts of amazing plants and creatures. We laid out on the beach, had a few more cocktails, then headed back towards town to check out a restaurant we had heard of which was famous for Moqueca.
Moqueca is a Brazilian specialty – fish stew. In the picture above it is the one on the right. It has a rich, salty broth, a robust tomato presence, and melt-in-your-mouth pieces of flaky, buttery white fish.
This past weekend I got a wild hair and decided to make a batch for the husband as an ode to our incredible honeymoon. Seriously, you guys – this was delicious! When we ordered the Moqueca in Brazil I didn’t think I was going to like it that much. I’ve really been exploring different tastes and cuisines lately and I’m so glad that this dish was one of them! Give it a shot, it’s totally scrumptious.
While this dish is full of complex flavor profiles, it is very simple to make and takes very little active time. The fish needs to marinate for three hours in the fridge, so making this on a weekend may be your best bet. Conversely, you could put the fish in the fridge to marinate before you leave for work, then come home and prepare the rest of the Moqueca.
I happened to have a bunch of tilapia on hand, but you could use any firm white fish. Snapper, sea bass, or grouper would be especially delicious!
Here’s how I made it:
Makes: 4 Servings
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped, divided
- 1 green onion (white and green parts), chopped, divided
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, divided
- 1 1/4 lbs. firm white fish, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1/2 c. freshly chopped green bell pepper
- 1/3 c. freshly chopped yellow bell pepper
- 1 1/2 c. fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 c. light coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp.tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp.lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/3 c.canned or jarred hearts of palm, drained and diced (if you’ve never tired these, be aware that they are VERY yummy!)
- 2 small tomatoes, seeded, and diced (you could also used canned tomatoes here)
- In a shallow bowl, mix together half of the green onion, half of the yellow onion, half of the ginger, half the cilantro, half of the garlic, and 4 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the chunks of fish and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
- 30 minutes prior to cooking, remove the fish from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out your fish on a large baking sheet and pour the lemon juice on top. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring the extra 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the remaining green onion and yellow onion to the pan along with the bell peppers and cook about 3 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the rest of the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for another minute or until it’s hot. Add the chicken broth and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or so and gently simmer the sauce while you prepare the fish.
- Place your tray of fish in the oven and bake until the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes.
- Add the almost-cooked fish and cooking juices into the saute pan of sauce. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the fish is soft and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, add the hearts of palm and tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
- Taste the moqueca and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Serve topped with the remaining fresh cilantro.
Nutrition (per serving):
361 calories, 23 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10