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BVC Eats: Brazilian fish stew

Cepera Dende OilThis recipe is adapted from a Chicago Tribune recipe, which introduced me to dende oil, a specialty of Brazil, Caribbean countries, and points in between, also called red palm oil. The fish stock alone is heavenly!

Make a fish stock thusly:

1 large fish head  (salmon is fine, although some cooks argue against it)

Wash the fish head thoroughly in running water.

Flatten the fish head – a hammer blow smashing it a bit flatter will work fine.

Put the fish head into a medium saucepan with water to cover, along with:

2 smashed cloves garlic
1 carrot, split or chunked
1 small onion, halved
2 ribs celery in big chunks
½ serrano pepper, pith and seeds removed

Bring all that to a boil, then simmer on very low for half an hour, skimming the gray yuck off the top once.

Strain everything out of the stock. Give the rags to the possums in the yard.

You will get maybe 4 cups stock. Now you have enough stock for the fish stew and the cilantro rice. If you have more than 4 cups, you can save its yoms for other uses, like dipping some fresh bread into hot fish stock, or making more rice, or steaming mashed potatoes, or … yom!

1 to 1¼ lb. cod or halibut, skinless, washed and cut in 2” chunks
1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced
1 orange pepper, seeded, de-pithed, sliced
1 red pepper, same
2 to 4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 limes, zested and squeezed, divided in half
1 bunch cilantro – tops chopped and set aside for the rice, stems minced
2 limes, cut in eighths
1 lemon cut in eighths
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, diced (or 1 #10 can diced)
4 T or more strong olive oil
4 T dende (red palm) oil
1 can full-fat coconut cream
1 t sea salt

Put the onions, garlic, and oils into a heavy-bottomed pan.

Cook gently and stir until onion is translucent, ~3 minutes.

Add the peppers, cook 3 more minutes, stirring.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.

Add 2 cups of fish stock, lime juice & zest, salt, and coconut cream. Bring all that to a simmer.

Add the fish chunks, submerge them in the simmering broth, and cook 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through.

At the last minute, add half the cilantro tops and all the chopped cilantro stems (for crunch). Serve over cilantro rice (recipe elsewhere on this blog).


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