Brazilian Fish, Shrimp and Mussel Stew
Baby, it’s cold outside. And in Minnesota, I like to make seafood "meals in a bowl" the week after New Year’s to remind me that warmer days are ahead. This recipe is fast, easy to execute and staggeringly new to almost everyone.
I remember as a young man checking out some of the wilder Brazilian restaurants in NYC. I fell in love with the raw, unvarnished lust for food that the Brazilians have—and of course, their sensuality comes dripping off their music, dance and all-around sexy lifestyle. It took me years to get to Brazil to taste and explore their food for myself. Although I had been cooking this dish for 20 years, I was not prepared for the boldness of the seafood bowls that I tasted up and down the coast of Brazil. This is a traditional moqueca, which is a fish stew. But to some, this recipe is a vatapa, because it has nut butter added to it. And here’s the million-dollar payoff: Brazilian seafood stews of this type will blow your mind! Every time I cook this dish for friends and family, the reaction is the same: amazement. And I think the reason is that we are so used to Western and Mediterranean flavors when it comes to seafood chowders, stews and pan roasts that the seminal and delightful flavors in this dish surprise and delight every time. Cashew and mussels? No way.
You can make this as varied as you like. Many restaurants in Brazil make their stews with cuttlefish, local species of crab, crayfish, langoustes and other assorted fish and shellfish. You can’t go wrong.—Andrew Zimmern