Okay folks, the time has arrived. It’s time to spice up this blog!
Over the next few weeks and months, I’ll take you on a culinary journey around the world. Together with my wife, I’ll prepare, eat and describe some recipes from the countries Compassion works in. Hopefully, they’ll be enticing enough that you’ll want to try them out yourselves.
If you’d like to join us on this adventure, prepare the recipe and come back to tell us what you thought of the meal.
If you write about your meal on your blog, share a link to your post below so we have more than one perspective represented here.
So, to kick off our culinary series, I chose Moqueca de Peixe, a Brazilian fish stew recipe shared with us by Liv Almeida Nunes Ribeiro Dias, a Program Implementation Assistant with Compassion Brazil.
To tell you the truth, I chose this recipe because it didn’t seem too difficult to begin with. Despite watching hours and hours of the Food Network, I’m still cooking challenged, unless we’re talking tiramisu or my grandmother’s handmade ravioli.
To begin with, Liv’s recipe calls for us to use sole, flounder or plaice. My fishmonger didn’t have any of those fresh, so I looked at the basa, a Vietnamese catfish. It was the only fresh white fish I saw.
However, my pregnant wife isn’t fond of bottom dwellers and we had a tense exchange about what to do because when I’m cooking it’s my way or the highway.
Fortunately, a second look at the fish counter, after my wife threw up her hands and walked away, revealed some tilapia which meant I didn’t have to sleep on the couch last night. Whew!
Although the recipe calls for one clove of garlic (chopped), when it comes to garlic in my house one means three.
The same Italian-style math applies to olive oil. More is better. Olive oil runs in my veins, which means I used three tablespoons instead of two.
To compensate for the extra garlic and olive oil I reduced the amount of salt. Actually, the recipe doesn’t specify how much salt to use.
When I cook I don’t use salt at all, but in this case, because the ingredients were fresh I used some (one teaspoon). However, the dish needed more salt than I used in order to bring out the flavors; I added more at the table.
The chili peppers were supposed to be chopped and seeded, but I like spicy so I left the seeds in and just chopped, chopped, chopped it all up. I didn’t notice any heat in the meal at all, and my wife who has a lower tolerance for spice didn’t think it was spicy either.
Next time, I’ll use four of five chilis.
After prepping the vegetables, I pureed them to make the marinade, which is essentially a salsa.
Then I introduced the salsa to the tilapia, “Hello,” and let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.
After an hour it was cooking time. The recipe says cook for five to 10 minutes.
I split the difference and went with eight, which was perfect. Then served it up.
Although my wife and I both liked the meal and will certainly make it again, I think I’ll take a few more liberties with the recipe next time, to give it more plate appeal (color) and a more robust taste.
I suggest adding some red, green and yellow bell peppers (one each) to the mix, a can of coconut milk, a bottle of clam juice and black pepper to taste, maybe even crushed red pepper flakes.
Also, rather than using olive oil, it’s probably worthwhile to get some dende oil (a Brazilian palm oil).
I hope all of this doesn’t dissuade you from trying the dish, especially if you sponsor a child in Brazil. Give the recipe a try and let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment below.
Our next stop on the Amazing Compassion Culinary Adventure will be Mexico. We’ll be making Lasagna Azteca.