Mocequa in a cast iron brasier

Moqueca is a Brazilian fish stew, developed by enslaved peoples and named for the earthenware pot used to prepare it. As azeite de dendê (red palm oil) can be difficult to find, turmeric creates a warm yellow hue. This dish is a good first dish for those who’ve never cooked fresh seafood before. Just remember: To avoid overcooking the shrimp, you’ll need to remove them from the marinade before cooking the rest. Return the shrimp to the stew for the last few minutes of cooking.

Yields serves 6

Mocequa
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Ingredients

    For the marinade
  • 4 thinly sliced green onions, green and white parts
  • 2 heads of garlic, crushed or finely minced
  • ½ bunch finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ½ bunch finely chopped coriander leaf, to taste
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
  • 7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) turmeric
  • For the stew
  • 700g (about 1½ lbs) fresh or thawed skinless firm white fleshed fish fillets, cut into 5 cm (2-inch) lengths
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh or thawed peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, halved and sliced
  • 2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F) and mix the marinade by combining the sliced green onions, garlic, parsley, coriander leaf, olive oil, salt and turmeric.
  2. Place the fish, shrimp, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions in an oven-safe dish. Pour the marinade over the fish and vegetables and turn them so they are well-coated. Marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the shrimp and let them rest in the fridge. Lid the dish and cook in the oven until the peppers are soft, about 25 minutes. When soft, add the shrimp on top of the stew, recover, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked.
  4. Serve over rice.

Notes

!How to tell when the fish and shrimp are cooked • The fish’s flesh will be opaque and will flake when a fork is inserted into the thickest part and then turned. • The shrimp is cooked when the flesh has just turned opaque with pink or red on the outside, and they’ve curled into a “C” shape. They will likely be overcooked if they are bright white with pink or red and curled into a tight “O” shape. • Shrimp placed in the centre of the dish sometimes take longer to cook than those placed closer to the edges. Check the shrimp for doneness after five minutes. If some need more time, keep them on the stew, remove any cooked ones, and returning the dish to the oven until the rest are done.

This dish tends to take longer to cook if made in a lidded cast iron pan than if made in a Pyrex lasagne pan or ceramic baking dish covered with tin foil.

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https://inkstainedapron.com/2019/05/01/mocequa/

A version of this recipe appeared in my profile of Carolina Miranda, for my World of Food column for Grand Magazine (May-June 2019).