If you're like me, you probably have a lot of odds and ends floating around in your freezer; a couple wedges of cheese, a piece of fresh fish you didn't get around to cooking, an avocado you're testing out because you saw on pinterest that freezing it might work, and about a dozen bananas just waiting for their time to shine in a loaf of some kind. Spring has finally arrived, which means it's time to clean up the house and clean out the freezer. That piece of fish, which was tossed in the freezer a few months ago to save it from spoiling, has been nagging me, so I went hunting for a recipe and found one that caught my eye in one of the usual places. Simply Recipes always posts really delicious recipes and this fish stew is no exception. I think my favourite thing about this recipe is that coconut milk is used as the broth, instead of the regular chicken stock, which gives the stew an extra depth of flavour. Make this for dinner tonight or even for guests! It also makes great leftovers.
Brazilian Fish Stew
1 1/2 to 2 lbs of fillets of firm white fish such as halibut, swordfish, or cod, rinsed in cold water, pin bones removed, cut into large portions
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped spring onion, or 1 medium yellow onion, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup green onion greens, chopped
1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, chopped (or sliced)
2 cups chopped (or sliced) tomatoes
1 Tbsp paprika (Hungarian sweet)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped with some set aside for garnish
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white rice
1 3/4 cups boiling water (check your rice package for the appropriate ratio of liquid to rice for the type of rice you are using)
1 teaspoon salt
Place fish pieces in a bowl, add the minced garlic and lime juice so that the pieces are well coated. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Keep chilled while preparing the rest of the soup.
Bring a couple cups of water to a boil. Heat one Tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the chopped 1/2 onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the raw white rice and stir to coat completely with the oil, onions, and garlic. Add the boiling water. (The amount depends on your brand of rice, check the package. If no amounts are given, add 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.) Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes, after which, remove from heat until ready to serve with the soup.
Back to the soup. In a large pot, coat the bottom with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. (At least a teaspoon of salt.) Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and onion greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
Use a large spoon to remove about half of the vegetables (you'll put them right back in). Spread the remaining vegetables over the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the fish. Arrange the fish pieces on the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then add back the previously removed vegetables, covering the fish. Pour coconut milk over the fish and vegetables.
Bring soup to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may need to add more salt (likely), lime or lemon juice, paprika, pepper, or chili flakes to get the soup to the desired seasoning for your taste.
Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.