Moqueca: Bahia’s Fish Stew

Moqueca: Bahia’s Fish Stew

Last Friday SBS showed the final episode of the beautiful documentary ‘This is Brazil’. The adorable Fernanda de Paula was the perfect choice to talk about our exotic and diverse country. She showed an incredible spontaneity and great passion for Brazil during her visits to numerous cities that will be hosting the World Cup 2014. This episode was about the vibrant historic city of Salvador, where the  UNESCO’s heritage-listed site of Pelourinho is located. The splendid and picturesque site was the old city centre of Salvador and it is characterised by hundreds of colonial-style buildings, houses, churches and monuments. The state of Bahia is the centre-stage of the Afro-Brazilian culture and, as a result, its capital Salvador is where you can enjoy rich Afro-Brazilian culture reflected on the arts, electrifying music, dance and, of course, mouth-watering cuisine. The recipe I am posting today is an exquisite Afro-Brazilian dish of Bahia called Moqueca. Along with Bobó (check recipe here), Moqueca is a must-try dish if you want to understand what the flavours of Bahia are about.  The name Moqueca originates from the Tupi-Guarani indigenous word moquear which means ‘slow-cooking over a fire’. This dish is, by far, the favourite of my Aussie friends. Even those who are not so gluttons have succumbed to this tempting stew. It is so light and tasty, that you just can’t stop eating it! Indeed, Moqueca is starting to get famous in Australia, even the talented young chef Benjamin Cooper created his own (with lots of seafood and brussels sprouts!) while participating in Episode 16 of MasterChef Australia. I also added my own twists to this recipe. Originally you cook all the vegetables at the same time but I prefer to pre-fry the onions to make them...
Brazilian-Style Baked Rice

Brazilian-Style Baked Rice

VEGETARIAN, GLUTEN FREE It has been a bit challenging for me to find time for blogging this year. We moved to a new house a couple of months ago and, after two years ‘working’ as a full-time mum, I started another full-time job! I usually leave the blogging work for the weekend but during this period it was a bit difficult to find the time and energy for that. I am so glad to be back and happy to share this delightful dish with you. I just can’t get enough of rice dishes lately; I suppose it is my Brazilian taste that keeps me moving toward it. I remember when I was living in Brisbane and I was in this food court at my lunch break queuing in a “roast and veggie” restaurant right behind two young Brazilian blokes. They didn’t know I was Brazilian and I overheard them saying that it sucked they had all these meat with potatoes and pumpkin but didn’t have rice on the menu to go with it! That’s exactly how we Brazilians are: we eat rice pretty much with everything, anything, all the time: with beans (on a daily basis), with barbecue, we put it in our chicken soup, with feijoada (black bean stew), with moqueca (fish stew). We have hundreds of rice dishes like the coconut rice of Bahia state, a mouthwatering rice cooked in coconut milk so yes, rice is for Brazilians like potato is for the English or pasta for the Italians. Did I say we are also addicted to sweet and creamy rice custard for dessert? Well, this baked rice is also a popular...
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

In my opinion, this is the best street-food that Brazil can offer. I still remember when I went many years ago to sunny Salvador in Bahia state and bought them straight from the very friendly Baianas of Acarajé: the gorgeous cooks who make these fritters in a street cart. Baianas are very easy to spot in the streets of Salvador as they are dressed in long white dresses with a wide skirt made with layers of lace. On the head they wear a white turban and with the clothes lots of colourful bangles and necklaces. This costume dress has African influence and is related to the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé. The dishes of the state of Bahia are the most famous in our country and many traditional foods like bobó, moqueca and vatapá essentially have red palm oil (dendê), chilli, coconut milk, coriander and seafood. These dishes are offered to gods during sacred rituals of Candomblé. When baianas are dressed in colourful clothes they are called Baianas of Tourism. In Rio’s carnival parade every samba school has a special wing dedicated to Baianas and they wear the same dress and turban but made with shiny colourful fabric and lots of sparkly beads. Carmen Miranda, the late Brazilian star who is known for her tutti-frutti hat and flamboyant style got inspiration from baianas to create her style. She became a Hollywood star singing and dancing songs about Brazil in the Hollywood musicals of the 40s. Both the typical baiana’s dress and acarajé are very important to Brazil’s culture and are heritage-listed. Acarajé is often filled with dried or fried prawns, vatapá and chilli sauce. Because they are a bit plump,...
Pineapple and Chilli Caipiroska

Pineapple and Chilli Caipiroska

Today’s recipe is about two super versatile South Americans: pineapple and chilli. Native from Brazil and Paraguay, pineapple is that gorgeous tropical fruit that looks like a large pine cone with a green crown on top… and that Aussies love to have in their burger! With a delightful aroma and rich in vitamin C pineapple is great on its own as a healthy snack option. There are so many ways to use pineapple in the kitchen such as adding them in fruit salads or made into a variety of cold desserts such as ice creams, sorbets, trifles, custards or mousses. Pineapple fritters and caramelised pineapple are great options if you like warm desserts. Camelo (camel) is how we call in Brazil the barbecued pineapple, which is just peeled and covered in cinnamon, skewered on a wooden stick and place it over the charcoal barbecue to caramelise and add that special smoky flavour. Pineapple can also be used in baking and be added to muffins, breads, cakes or made into juices and smoothies. The versatility of the fruit doesn’t stop in the desserts: pineapple is widely used in savoury dishes, for example as a pizza topping, in hamburgers, in curries or other spicy dishes and it is a great match with fish and pork. In the eighties in Brazil it was very trendy to make a pineapple boat and serve a prawn cocktail or sauce in it. Who doesn’t love a smoothie or cocktail served in that funky pineapple cup? Reminds me of the 80s again, more precisely the American sitcoms set in Hawaii! Then you have the classic Piña Colada…....
Cassava Flour

Cassava Flour

It is the flour of the cassava root. It is sold as plain or toasted and in Brazil it is eaten daily all over the country as an accompaniment of meats and cured meats, barbecues, stews and rice and beans. It is also used to make farofas (Brazilian crumbs) and to thicken fish stock (and other stocks).The delicious exotic mixture of stock and cassava flour is known in Brazil as pirão. Available online*. List of recipes of this website using cassava flour: When Brazil meets Australia Lamb Shanks Moqueca: Bahia’s Fish Stew Feijoada: Pork and Black Bean Stew Osvaldo Aranha’s Steak Meal Galinhada: Brazilian Chicken Stew    ...