Here's a colorful fish dish from Brazil that's packed with interesting flavors: sweet peppers, rich coconut and pungent ginger. The original recipe called for sole; until that fish becomes more sustainable, choose tilapia or turbot instead.
The coconut milk acts as a thickening agent. Don't use coconut water or cream of coconut, which is full of added sugar and emulsifiers.
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 10 medium to large shallots
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- Leaves from 1 small bunch thyme
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3-inch piece ginger root
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups fish stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 skinless tilapia or turbot fillets (about 6 ounces each)
- 1 cup flour, for coating the fish
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Finely chop the red, yellow and green bell peppers to yield 1/2 cup each. Finely chop enough of the shallots to yield 1/2 cup.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped peppers and shallots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft. Meanwhile, finely chop 2 cloves of the garlic; add to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Chop enough thyme leaves to yield 1 tablespoon; add to the skillet, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
To make the sauce, chop enough of the remaining shallots to yield 1/3 cup and add to a medium saucepan with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft and translucent. Meanwhile, chop enough of the ginger to yield 1/4 cup and chop the two remaining cloves of garlic; add to the saucepan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the wine and bring to a boil; cook until the liquid in the pan has reduced by about 80 percent. Add the fish stock, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk, stir well to combine, reduce the heat to medium-low or low and cook until the sauce becomes thick, stirring frequently. Strain it through a sieve into another saucepan and discard any solids. Season with salt and pepper to taste; keep warm.
While the sauce is cooking, pat the fish dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Place the flour on a plate, lightly dredge the fish in the flour and shake off the excess.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. When the butter is hot, add the fish fillets; they should sizzle lightly. Cook the fillets without moving them for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then use a metal spatula to carefully turn the fillets over. Cook the second side until golden brown.
Place a fish fillet on each plate and top with the warm pepper mixture. Spoon the sauce around the fish and serve.
Adapted from "The Brazilian Kitchen," by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz (Kyle Books, 2010).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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