Over the years Mark and I have devoured our fair share of moquecas, both in restaurants and private homes. With the arrogance of the newcomer we believe we can tell a good moqueca from a bad one, and we never hesitate to share our opinions with the rest of the moqueca mavens. But make our own? No, not with those complex flavors. It’s only within the last month that we took the plunge and bought a clay moqueca pot at a roadside stand on the ride in to Rio (for a whopping $7.50!) Once back home, we researched recipes, donned our aprons and voilà! It turns out to be incredibly easy. (Note: since I find dendê impossible to digest, I tend towards the Capixaba version. Feel free to add dendê, and good luck to you if it’s your first time.)
Our first moqueca was made with shark (cação), which seems to be the classic Búzios version, but the one pictured here is being made with dourado. Besides the fish steaks, which you should marinate a while in lime juice, garlic and salt, slice or dice up onion, tomato, green pepper (optional) and cilantro, some malagueta peppers, urucum, and coconut milk (not usually used in a Capixaba version, but who’s looking?)
|Start layering . . .|
|Final layer, close her up|
Cover and boil for about 15-20 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. Then add the bottle of coconut milk, and keep cooking for another 10 minutes or so. Test the fish for doneness.
Bring the whole pot to the table and serve it over rice while your guests drool. It’s easy, delicious, nutritious, a great dinner party dish.
(Note: In Brazil, Moqueca de Peixe is also served with farofa (a toasted manioc flour mixture) and pirão (a very thick, gravy-like side dish made from fish heads). I’ve always had some trouble with pirão since it, too, is made with dendê, so I leave it out. I apologize to my Brazilian friends, but you all know there are plenty of foreigners with this particular disability.)