Thursday, August 13, 2015

Alaska Seafood Moqueca Recipe

I'm just back from the incredibly wild and unspoiled state of Alaska. I was on the trip with food writers and chefs as well as a seafood importer. I got a chance to talk with a lot of people involved with Alaska seafood including a biologist, a conservationist, a manager from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the proprietor of an oyster farm and even a senator and commercial fisherman. I was impressed with their efforts to keep the seafood industry sustainable and environmentally friendly.
My itinerary was jam packed. I flew in a sea plane over glaciers, foraged along the seashore and into the forest, fished for salmon and halibut (and caught one of each). I tasted all five species of salmon, and I also got a chance to observe some cooking demonstrations where I picked up some great cooking tips. One recipe I couldn't wait to try at home came from Chef Fernando Corsi, who lives in São Paolo. It was his version of a very traditional Brazilian recipe called moqueca. If you look for recipes online you will find they vary greatly. I think it might be more about technique than anything else. Vegetables, coconut milk and aromatics are layered in a clay pot and topped with seafood. But you can make it any pot you happen to have. 

Americans eat less seafood than other proteins like chicken, pork or beef and that's a shame because seafood is really healthy and delicious. Almost 60% of the seafood in the US comes from Alaska and is wild, natural and sustainable.

Chef Fernando Corsi used local Alaskan fish and shrimp rather than what he would find in Brazil and emphasized how flexible this recipe is. Not only is it a satisfying combination of flavors--tomatoes, onions, peppers and lime, cilantro, garlic and ginger, it's also because it is extremely quick and easy to make. Served with rice it's a terrific one pot meal. Could it help convince you to eat more seafood? I certainly hope so!

Note: One key ingredient in Moqueca is dende oil, but the chef showed us how to use turmeric and any plain oil instead. If you have palm oil feel free to use it.

Serves 4


5 Tablespoons coconut oil, or other vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons turmeric
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, red or white, sliced into rings 
2 bell peppers. sliced into rings 
1 small hot chile such as serrano, sliced
2 medium sized tomatoes, sliced into rounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 can coconut milk 
Sprigs of cilantro, chopped
3/4 pound shrimp, peeled
3/4 pound firm white fish such as halibut or cod, cut into bite sized pieces
Juice of one lime


Heat a medium heavy pot. Add the coconut oil and turmeric. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. 

Layer in the onions, tomatoes and peppers then season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes.

Season the seafood with salt and pepper and add to the pot along with the coconut milk. Cook just until the fish is cooked through. Stir in the lime juice then taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Garnish the stew with the chopped cilantro and serve over rice.


Disclaimer: My thanks to Chef Fernando Corsi for the recipe and to Alaska Seafood for hosting me on this trip. I was not compensated monetarily to write this or any other post on Cooking with Amy.