brazilian fish and shrimp stew with pepper sauce and rice and peas

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This fish and shrimp stew cooks up very quickly, and is light, piquant, and full of the fresh flavors of coconut milk and peppers, both sweet and hot. I served it with the coconut-flavored Jamaican rice and peas that I had put up in the freezer. Rice and peas is a robust accompaniment that holds its own with spicy main courses such as this stew.

Fish and Shrimp Stew/Moqueca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Pepper Sauce
2-8 Thai chili peppers, or to taste (pickled hot cherry peppers in original recipe)
1/2 small red onion, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Large pinch sugar or to taste
Salt to taste

Stew
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
1 pound skinless white fish fillets about 1 inch thick, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces (e.g. cod)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 small red onion, chopped coarsely
1 (14.5 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 leek, both white and green parts, sliced into thin rounds
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
Juice of 2-3 small limes, or to taste

Make the pepper sauce: Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a separate bowl. Rinse out processor bowl.

Make the stew: Toss shrimp and fish with garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Process onion, tomatoes and their juice, and 1/4 cup cilantro in food processor until finely chopped and mixture has texture of pureed salsa, about 30 seconds.

Heat oil in large Dutch pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Add red and green peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add onion-tomato mixture, leeks, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until puree has reduced and thickened slightly, 3-5 minutes. Pot should not be dry.

Increase heat to high, stir in coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Mixture should be bubbling over the entire surface. Add shrimp and fish with lime juice, and stir to evenly distribute seafood. Make sure all pieces are submerged in liquid. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand until shrimp and fish are opaque and just cooked through, 15 minutes.

If desired, gently stir in 2 tablespoons pepper sauce. Be careful not to break up the fish too much. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, passing the remaining pepper sauce separately.

Cook’s Note: I did not add the pepper sauce to the stew, instead, I served it at the table with the remaining chopped cilantro.

rice and peas and fricassee chicken

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Black Bean Soup with Rice and Peas and Fricassee Chicken

Every cook in Jamaica has his/her own version of rice and peas. There are recipes that you cook on the stove top and those you cook in a rice cooker. But every rice and peas recipe that I know of uses salt beef or pork to make the broth, except this one. I thought I would try it to see how it tastes. Andy said he missed the smoky flavor of the salt beef, but otherwise, it was full of flavor.

Rice and peas is almost always accompanied with chicken. The fricassee chicken recipe that follows is my mother’s. It’s very simple and relies on seasoning salt to flavor the meat. Then you add tomatoes, garlic and onions, salt and pepper, and that’s it.

Rice and Peas (adapted from The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
Servings: 8

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-4 scallions, sliced thin
2 cups jasmine rice
one 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken
1 1/2 cups water
1 sprig thyme
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper or Habañero pepper
two 15 oz cans small red beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups dried)
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

If using dried beans, soak overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, then cook in fresh water to cover in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch pot with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.

Add garlic and scallion and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to prevent browning.

Add the rice, coconut milk, water, thyme, Scotch bonnet, beans, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then stir well, reduce the heat to very low. Cover tightly and cook without disturbing for 25 to 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is very tender.

Taste. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Fluff rice before serving. Serve with a fricassee of chicken.

Fricassee Chicken
4 chicken legs
3 chicken thighs, preferably boneless and trimmed of excess fat
Seasoning salt
3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

In a large Dutch pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high. Sprinkle seasoning salt generously on the skin and undersides of the chicken. Brown the chicken pieces then set aside.

To the oil remaining in the pot, add the tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Cook until the onions are just beginning to soften. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken pieces are done. Taste and adjust seasoning.