- 1 lb. halibut fillets, skinless, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced (2 1/2 tablespoons)
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups bottled clam juice
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 lb. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 lb. mussels, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons natural cashew butter
Baby, it’s cold outside. And in Minnesota, I like to make seafood "meals in a bowl" the week after New Year’s to remind me that warmer days are ahead. This recipe is fast, easy to execute and staggeringly new to almost everyone.
I remember as a young man checking out some of the wilder Brazilian restaurants in NYC. I fell in love with the raw, unvarnished lust for food that the Brazilians have—and of course, their sensuality comes dripping off their music, dance and all-around sexy lifestyle. It took me years to get to Brazil to taste and explore their food for myself. Although I had been cooking this dish for 20 years, I was not prepared for the boldness of the seafood bowls that I tasted up and down the coast of Brazil. This is a traditional moqueca, which is a fish stew. But to some, this recipe is a vatapa, because it has nut butter added to it. And here’s the million-dollar payoff: Brazilian seafood stews of this type will blow your mind! Every time I cook this dish for friends and family, the reaction is the same: amazement. And I think the reason is that we are so used to Western and Mediterranean flavors when it comes to seafood chowders, stews and pan roasts that the seminal and delightful flavors in this dish surprise and delight every time. Cashew and mussels? No way.
You can make this as varied as you like. Many restaurants in Brazil make their stews with cuttlefish, local species of crab, crayfish, langoustes and other assorted fish and shellfish. You can’t go wrong.
1. In a medium bowl, toss the fish with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Drain and pat dry.
2. In a large pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the fish in a single layer and brown on one side only over moderately high heat, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the onion, chiles, garlic and the 1/4 cup chopped cilantro to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, coating the vegetables. Add the clam juice and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes.
4. Return the fish to the pot. Add the shrimp, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Nestle the mussels into the stew, cover, and cook until the mussels have opened, about 2 minutes.
5. Whisk the cashew butter with 2 tablespoons of hot water, then stir it into the stew. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice and season with salt. Transfer the stew to bowls, garnish with cilantro and serve.
Seafood, Soups & Stews