Are you ready for a new name for fish stew? Moqueca do Ilha Grande. This recipe was inspired by a great dinner venue…we sat at a tiny restaurant on the beach on the island of Ilha Grande, about 2 hours south of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It truly was a memorable meal that evening and recreating it brought back incredible memories of an amazing trip.
Harbor view on Ihla Grande off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo credit: Patricia Petty
Moqueca do Ilha Grande aka Fish Stew Ilha Grande
60z. portions of firm, thick white fish (I used halibut)
Fresh shrimp (optional) are also typical for Brazil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion sliced into thin rounds
½ cup white wine (I had a bottle of Riesling open)
2 Tbsp tomato sauce
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deveined and chopped
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut mild (premium brand tends to be very thick and creamy)
Fresh cilantro sprigs for cooking and extra, finely minced as a garnish
¼ cup chopped cashews
Shavings of fresh coconut (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400. Season the fish and set aside
In a deep, ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and reduce down to about half. Add the tomato sauce and cook another minute or so. Add the fresh tomato and red pepper, cook another 8 – 10 minutes or until thickened. Then stir in the coconut milk.
Place the fish in a lightly oiled Dutch oven or casserole and pour the sauce over the fish. Cover and bake for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp if using and gently spoon sauce over it.
Add the cilantro sprigs (4 – 6), cover and bake until the fish is opaque, the shrimp is tender and the sauce is bubbling, approx. 5 – 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the cashews, cilantro and garnish with the fresh coconut shavings.
Serve with simple boiled rice and a hot sauce if desired. I took fresh broccoli and shaved the flower heads and then folded it in to the hot rice.
$25.95 (LCBO Vintages 142323) 13.5% alcohol
$17.95, (Vintages 960955) 12.5% alcohol
Both wines paired beautifully with the fish stew, in fact any Alvarinho would be a good match.
I hope you enjoy making – and eating – this traditional fish stew as much as I did. The memory of that wonderful meal on the tiny island of Ihla Grande (there’s an oxymoron for you) will stay with me forever.