Recipe Revival: Brazilian Fish Stew Plus MVK’s Like of the Week

This summer has been busy—and the last two weeks have been HOT! Dinners have consisted of fresh vegetables, cold cucumber soup, and cooking on the grill. But as I was thinking of what recipe I was going to bring you this week, I remembered this favorite of mine that I first wrote about in 2013 and thought it was perfect timing–you can celebrate the end of the Olympics this weekend with a rich, spicy fish stew!

While this recipe isn’t complicated, it does take a fair amount time, so I always make it on a weekend when I have extra. And I usually buy cod in place of the halibut or sea bass, but you can substitute with another white fish if you prefer. This is a dish that is special enough for guests or a marked occasion; you could serve a crisp white wine, a simple salad with vegetables from your garden or the farmer’s market, and maybe some fresh crusty bread to sop up the leftovers.

I haven’t watched the Olympics in years; I only know what’s going on by reading the news headlines. But make this Sunday evening to watch the finale, or do what I plan on doing; once the heat wave breaks, it will make a perfect fall meal!

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Brazilian Fish Stew
Originally published in the September 2001 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

This recipe calls for sea bass or halibut, but I always substitute a light, white fish, usually cod. 

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1 1/2-pound) sea bass or halibut fillet, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup minced green onions (about 1 bunch)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cups chopped tomato (about 2 large)
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup light coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, green onions, garlic, and bay leaf; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato, and cook 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cilantro, clam juice, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

3. Place one-third of vegetable mixture in a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour pureed vegetable mixture into pan. Repeat procedure with remaining vegetable mixture. Add coconut milk and red pepper to pureed vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 3 minutes. Add fish mixture; cook 3 minutes or until fish is done. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cilantro.

MVK’s Like of the Week: Tiny Changes to Lose Poundsscale
I, like many people, am always looking for tips on how to lose weight. And I don’t want the advice to be take a magic pill or to eat the latest fad Dr. Oz is peddling. These ten tips actually are helpful and logical!

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Fish in Coconut Curry

I tend to be a creature of habit (and those who know me well won’t be surprised by this admission). Almost every Saturday, I go to my spin class, buzz home for breakfast and a shower, go to the post office and library, and then out to lunch and grocery shopping. And since I tend to have more time on Saturday nights to cook dinner, I like to buy something special. This usually tends to be fish since it is fresh and follows my rule of buying and cooking fish on the same day. So I am always looking for new and delicious fish recipes.

And this recipe doesn’t disappoint! Originally appearing in the April 2014 issue of Cooking Light (it also appears in the cookbook Global Kitchen), this warm fish dish is flavorful and relatively easy to make even for the less advanced cook. Just a little bit of chopping, toss everything together, and dinner is ready! I love Asian, Indian, and Thai foods, so with the curry powder and coconut milk, it was a perfect combination of all three. I served it with coconut rice; for my version I cook brown rice and add a little bit of coconut milk to the water and shredded coconut if I have it on hand. Grated ginger is also a good addition.

A few of my changes; since halibut wasn’t available, I used cod in replacement. Instead of light coconut milk, I used ½ cup whole and ¼ cup of water. I forgot the cilantro, but I think it would be a great addition. For vegetarians, I think you could substitute chickpeas or tofu for the fish. My only quibble was no zing! I love all things spicy, so I added some crushed red pepper to my serving, but next time I’ll add some jalapeno with the red pepper to spice it up!

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Fish in Coconut Curry (Mtuzi wa Samaki)
This recipe originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.  

Tanzania sits at a crossroads in the spice trade routes from India. That’s why Indian spices ended up in so many Tanzanian dishes like this fish curry. The dish originated in Zanzibar but is now enjoyed all over the eastern coast of Africa. Coconut milk enriches the curry and gives it a tropical flavor. Serve over boiled yuca, potatoes, or rice.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 1/2 cup sauce, 5 ounces fish, and 1 lemon wedge)
Hands-on: 20 Minutes
Total: 47 Minutes

Ingredients
1 (1 1/4-pound) skinless halibut or other firm white fish fillet
1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 3/4 cups chopped tomato (2 large)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
4 lemon wedges
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Sprinkle fish with 3/4 teaspoon curry powder, 3/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add fish; cook 4 minutes or until deeply browned on bottom but undercooked on top (fish will finish cooking later in sauce). Remove fish from pan.

3. Add onion and bell pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add remaining 3/4 teaspoon curry powder, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, tomato, and lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 10 minutes or until tomato breaks down, stirring occasionally. Mash tomato with a wooden spoon.

4. Stir in coconut milk. Return fish along with accumulated juices to pan, browned side up. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Cut fish into 4 equal portions. Spoon sauce into individual, shallow bowls; top each with a piece of fish. Serve with lemon wedges and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week
416guNJMdHLI thought I was the only one in the world obsessed with Laurie Colwin and her food writing, but it turns out there is a whole new generation that is discovering her. A former essayist for Gourmet magazine, Colwin died at the young age of 48 of a heart attack. Her two books, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking sit on my writing desk as inspiration more than anything; reading her writing is like sitting down with a friend, it’s effortless. Last week’s Dining section of the New York Times included a wonderful story on Colwin and her new young followers. Here is a link to the article, I hope you enjoy!