I now know where the happiest people in the world are and it isn't Disney. I have just returned from
Peixe Ensopado: Coconut Fish Stew
This is a recipe that a friend from Brazil gave me. She typically made it with badejo, a fish native to Brazil and like sea bass. I found a good substitute is haddock or a thick cut of hake or cod.
Juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
4 fish steaks 1/2" thick
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 green olives, sliced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 malagueta pepper, chopped (optional but tasty)
1/2 cup coconut milk (see recipe below. You can substitute canned but it will be much sweeter tasting)
Make a marinade of the lime juice, salt and pepper and marinate the fish for 1 to 3 hours. Sauté the onion, olives and garlic in oil until onion is limp. Mix in cilantro and cook for 1 minute. Add fish and marinade. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until fish is done. Mix in tomato paste, malagueta pepper and coconut milk. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice.
1 coconut (see below)
1/2 cup warm water (for a thick milk)
2 to 3 cups warm water (for a thin milk)
Heat the coconut in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes. This will crack the coconut. Using potholders, remove the coconut from the oven and place it in a large metal bowl on the floor. Cover the bowl with a towel and with a hammer, hit the coconut to break it open (note: good to take frustrations out as it will take several good hits to break it open). Take out large pieces of broken coconut and strain the coconut water through a coffee filter to take out all the little shell fragments and set aside. Separate the coconut meat from the shell. Use a big solid serving fork or dull knife. DO NOT USE A SHARP KNIFE!! (trust me on this...I have the scar to prove this is a bad idea). You can use a vegetable peeler to get the brown skin away from the ends of the meat. Grate the meat in a food processor or through a food mill.
To make the thick milk: Put the gratings into cheesecloth or a clean white dish towel and tie the ends together. Soak the wrapped gratings in 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl for a few minutes. Firmly squeeze the gratings over the bowl. This should make about 3/4 cup of thick milk. Add to reserved coconut water.
To make the thin milk: Follow the same soaking process above but use 2 to 3 cups of warm water and repeating the squeezing procedure several time. Use the reserved coconut water and bring the volume to 2 to 3 cups with warm water is needed.