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Homebrew: Sue's Brazilian Fish Stew

adapted from Gourmet and The New American Plate

Visiting my sister in Boston this weekend, I got to help her make one of her favorite dishes for serving a crowd: Brazilian Fish Stew. This is a great recipe for us Floridians because of the availability of gulf shrimp and snapper (Bostonians choose cod). Two ingredients make this stew a knockout with grace notes of the tropics -- red palm oil, which it turns out is good for you -- and coconut milk. The red palm oil adds color, a big dose of antioxidants, and a hard-to-describe flavor, like a powdery, perfumy citrus. You add the red palm oil at the very end so the delicate deliciousness doesn't cook off. Lots of sources on the internet for this one, or you can buy it at Whole Foods. It's expensive (about $15) here's a cheaper jar online), but it keeps well -- a year or so in the fridge after opening, or several months at room temperature.

Use your leftover palm oil to pop popcorn, fry fish, or anything else you'd use olive oil for in cooking.

--Gail Shepherd

After the jump, Making It


to serve 6 [she always doubles the recipe]

1 lb pink gulf shrimp (21 to 25 per lb), peeled and deveined

1 lb firm white fish like cod or snapper

[add scallops too, if you're feeling flush]

grinding of black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 (14- to 15-oz) can diced tomatoes including juice

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 green or red bell pepper, finely chopped (we used one of each in our doubled recipe)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (if you're doubling, use less. Or try a diced jalepeno)

5 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

5 tablespoons snipped chives

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (stir before adding)

1 tablespoon dendê (palm) oil

the wine in the photo goes into the cook and her assistant


squeeze those limes

Toss shrimp and white fish, cut in chunks, with black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic, lime juice, and a dash or two of olive oil, and marinate in a plastic bag in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Cook onion and bell peppers in olive oil in a heavy skillet or cast iron dutch oven over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add cayenne, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes straight from the can and simmer briskly, stirring, until mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil.

then add shrimp and fish and cook, stirring, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 to 7 minutes. Yell at guests to get the hell to the table so the damned fish doesn't overcook!

Stir in dendê oil and remaining cilantro and chives and season with salt and pepper. Threaten straggling guests with painful death in boiling pot of stew if they don't sit down at table RIGHT NOW.

Pizza in background staves off rioting children

By this time guests will be thoroughly pickled, very impatient, and nevertheless won't have obeyed your instructions to SIT the FK DOWN:

And the cooks will have polished off their own bottle of wine. So all the photos they take of the finished dish, dished out, will come out fuzzy and weird looking. But here's a photo, anyway, of what the hungry guests, after they finally sat down to eat, left on their plates.

Good luck!

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd

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