Moqueca is one of the many traditional dishes from Brazil. I love it! It’s fresh, light, not many ingredients and easy to make. Basically it is a fish stew. Moqueca capixaba is the moqueca made on the State of Espírito Santo, where I used to live. The Moqueca capixaba is different from the other moquecas made in another parts of Brazil. The ingredients used to make it are olive oil (not palm oil), onions, garlic, tomatoes, coriander and ‘colorau’ (this is a red powder made from the urucum seeds used do give colour to dishes in Brazil), coconut milk is never used.
To cook we use a traditional clay pot/pan, made also in my State, which is famous for the ‘Paneleiras’ ( women who made the clay pots by hand). I haven’t brought a clay pot from Brazil yet (yes, I know!), but I found this one here in Melbourne, made in Colombia. It’s not the same but work well.
Moqueca can be made with fish or others seafood such as prawns, crab, lobster, soft-shell crab, mussels, blue swimmer crab, or a mix of fish and seafood. Also, very good indeed, the version using bananas.
MOQUECA É CAPIXABA, O RESTO E PEIXADA! This is a famous phrase in Brazil and means that moqueca is the one made in the State of Espírito Santo (people from there are called capixaba), the rest is just a fish stew.
I make in Australia a adapted version of the moqueca. If you don’t have a clay pot and you don’t want to purchase one, you can make in your normal pan (just let you know that the taste from the clay pot is special). In this recipe I used the ‘colorau’ because I brought from Brazil in my last trip but I usually substitute it with tomato paste (still really good, adding some colour and making the sauce less watery).
- 1 kg white fish fillets (firm fish) – I tried with lots of different fish, but the ones that I liked the most are snapper and flathead tails.
- 6 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 lemon
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- 2 teaspoon of colorau
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste ( as a substitute to using the colorau)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more to drizzle
- You can add some prawns as well, it’s delicious.
- Wash the fish, put in a bowl and add the lemon juice and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
- in a bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion, coriander together.
- On the pan, medium heat, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add garlic and a bit of tomato, onion and coriander mixture and 1 teaspoon colorau or 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. This is to make a base for the fish.
- Arrange the fish on top of the base, add the prawns on that stage if you want. Cover with the remaining mixture, sprinkle with salt and colorau (or the other tablespoon of tomato paste), drizzle with olive oil.
- Cook in medium heat for approximately 20 to 25 min or until fish is cooked.
– Serve with steamed rice
– If you like chilli, I always make a fresh chilli chopped on olive oil and lemon to eat with it.
– The clay pots retain heat for long time, so will continue cooking the food with the heat off. So, be careful not to overcooked the fish or seafood.
BANANA SIDE DISH FOR MOQUECA (OPTIONAL BUT WONDERFUL ADDITION)
To make the banana side dish I also had to make some changes. I could not find here the type of banana we use in Brazil. It’s called “banana da terra” also known in other countries as Plantain. This kind of banana only can be eaten cooked. I use normal bananas instead. This is a delicious dish. Many people might be thinking that is a bit strange but the combination of the sweetness of the banana with the acid tomatoes and the saltiness of the dish work really well together.
- 4 bananas, chopped in diagonal, approximately 3 to 4 cm
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 brown onion chopped
- 1/3 cup coriander, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon colorau or 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- Salt to seasoning
- Place the olive oil, garlic, colorau or tomato paste on the pan, in medium heat, until fragrant.
- Make layers with the banana, the mix of tomato, onion and coriander, sprinkling with salt.
- Cook for 15 to 20 min in medium heat.
- Serve with Moqueca and rice.