This recipe closely resembles Brazilian moqueca. You can play with the stock-to-coconut milk ratios to achieve your desired consistency and taste. I have also done this recipe without stock and a full can of coconut milk. The addition of the stock makes use of something normally thrown away by most anglers but is highly regarded in other parts of the world, the head. I used a large mangrove snapper this time. Any firm, white fish would work. I would not want anything with a strong flavor as it might overpower the lighter flavors of the dish.
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1 hour 30 minutes
Large pot, fine mesh strainer, paper towels or cheese cloth
1 large snapper head and/or skeleton, or several smaller ones
1 medium onion (or scraps)
1 tbsp Salt
2 Garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery (or scraps)
1 pound of snapper fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup of fish stock
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne powder
Red pepper flakes
- Rinse fish parts with fresh water and remove the gills. They add undesirable flavor to the stock.
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a low simmer. Add fish, onions, and celery. You may also use leeks and carrots. Add just enough water to cover everything. You can split the head in half so that it lays flat and uses less water. The less water you use, the more concentrated your flavors will be.
- Crush the garlic cloves and add them in with the bay leaves and a few peppercorns.
- Simmer for about 45 minutes. Skim the scum that forms on the top as you go. Fish stock does not take near as long as venison or bird stock. Do not let it boil or simmer overly long. It is possible to overcook fish stock and extract some unwanted flavors.
- Strain the liquid first by removing the large chunks. Strain it again using a fine mesh strainer. Line the strainer with a paper towel or cheese cloth for a third straining. Inspect your stock to ensure there are no visible suspended solids.
- Repeat straining through a paper towel until you are left with a pale, clear liquid.
- Heat a stock pot on medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom with olive oil.
- Sauté the bell pepper, onion, and garlic until the onions just start to get tender. About 4 minutes. Add black pepper and salt.
- Remove about half of the vegetables.
- Working quickly, add the fish in a single layer on top of the remaining vegetables and cover with the half you took out.
- Add stock and coconut milk. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until done.
- Serve over rice with crushed red pepper and a drizzle of chili oil.
A note on sourcing the cut or foraged ingredients
This recipe is cool because you can utilize the head, bones, and fillets from the same fish. I normally save the scraps from onions, celery, and carrots in the freezer for making stocks. This is a great way of getting the most out your ingredients.