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Try this Brazilian fish stew from São Paulo chef Rafael Cagali. Rafael says, "Moqueca is a dish that really showcases Brazilian history and tradition. To achieve its vibrant colour, dende oil, extracted from the fruit of dendezeiro, or African oil palm trees, is used to cook down the vegetables and spice paste before fish stock and coconut milk are added. Dende oil is an integral part of the Afro-Brazilian cuisine of northern Brazil. At Da Terra, a large pot is brought out to diners before returning to the kitchen to be plated and finished tableside by our chefs. It’s a warm and filling dish that is great for parties."

This is a recipe that Rafael shared as part of his guide to São Paulo cuisine. Check it out to learn about Brazilian bakeries, barbecues and deep fried puff pastry.

Rafael Cagali grew up in São Paulo, and his heritage and passion for Brazilian culture helps to guide his creative vision at two-Michelin-starred Da Terra in east London. He spent years living in both Italy – where he worked with Stefano Baiocco at A Villa Feltrinelli – and Spain, where he worked with Quique Dacosta and Martín Berasategui, before moving to the UK to work at Simon Rogan’s Fera and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. At the latter, he met his husband Charlie, who he opened Da Terra with. São Paulo, however, will always be Rafael’s home.

Rafael's recipe tip: "Dende oil is extracted from the fruit of palm trees and can be found in African or Brazilian specialist shops and online – you can substitute it with saffron and turmeric for the colour, as Moqueca is traditionally a creamy yellow."


Brazilian moqueca recipe

Ingredients

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 250g onions (about 2), sliced
  • 250g red peppers (about 2), thickly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thickly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 400ml fish stock
  • 400g tin coconut milk
  • 500g white fish (such as cod, haddock or coley)
  • 250g king prawns
  • a small bunch coriander, torn
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • cooked rice, to serve
  • 8tbsp cassava flour, toasted in a dry pan (optional)

SPICE PASTE

  • 250g tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 80g ginger, chopped
  • 4 Malagueta or bird’s-eye chillies
  • 80ml dende oil

Method

  • STEP 1

    Melt the butter in a pan over a high heat and cook the onions and peppers for 5 minutes until softening and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

  • STEP 2

    Make the paste by whizzing all the ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender to a smooth paste.

  • STEP 3

    Turn down the heat to low, tip in the paste and cook for 10 minutes until thickened and slightly darkened, then pour in the stock and coconut milk.

  • STEP 4

    Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the fish and prawns, and continue gently simmering for 6-7 minutes or until cooked through.

  • STEP 5

    Stir in the coriander and lime juice, and season. Serve with rice and the toasted cassava flour on top for texture (known as farofa in Brazil).

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