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            The Saltwater Magazine for Gulf Coast Fishing!

            Cook's Guide - Fall 1995
            by Annette Lucido
            
            FOREIGN FISH

            We spent Memorial Day weekend in Rio. Louis claimed that he "had to carefully watch his back casts" while doing a bit of casual surf casting off Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. I suspect he was more interested in the nubile young ladies in the extremely small bathing suits. He did catch a goatfish and some other oddments, but the boat and bank fishing away from urban areas is definitely better and the saltwater action seems very underutilized. Rio seems as safe as any big city, manners there are better than most and, of course, there's some of the world's best jewelry shopping. Plus -- this is a cooking column -- the Brazilians do incredible things with fish. Their fish soup with shrimp and some of the other specialties from Bahia up the coast in an area much like New Orleans, offers superb treats.

            Culturally, you've an interesting mix of Portuguese from the days of imperial Brazil, local indian influences, Spanish and most European and what's apparently the largest colony of Japanese outside Japan. As elsewhere "fancy food" at places like the Copacabana Palace's dining rooms, run to French, but the local foods you get from stands goes down nicely with juices from the many stands or, as Louis notes, "excellent local beer."

            Lots of the local dishes start with a version of the Portuguese "piri piri" a sort of hot oil sauce that's well worth the effort. We make it by the quart with hot peppers grown in our yard, but you can use whatever small hot peppers you can find at ethnic groceries. You'll need about a cup and a half of hot peppers. Add a bit of brandy or your favorite sour mash -- 1/2 a cup is fine --Then pour in a 50-50 mix of olive and vegetable oils to fill the jar. Tap the jar a couple of times to remove the air bubbles and wait for three weeks or so. We use this sparingly to cook eggs, as a sauce additive and in many Mexican dishes. It's a killer in spaghetti sauce IF used in moderation. You can use it as a side sauce too.

            BRAZILIAN SHRIMP & FISH SALAD

            1 1/2 pounds shrimp, poached*

            1 1/2 pounds fish fillets, poached*

            1 red bell pepper, chopped

            1 green bell pepper, chopped

            2 tomatoes chopped

            1/2 cup lemon juice

            1/2 olive oil

            2 tablespoons tomato paste

            1 teaspoon piri piri or chili oil

            Poach fish fillets and shrimp over low heat. Remove and reserve. Mix ingredients two to three hours before serving.

            You can garnish with hard boiled chopped eggs if you like.

            * Simmer shrimp peels and fish parts with one chopped onion, 6 bay leaves and a teaspoon of black pepper in a couple of cups of water. Strain stock and reserve.

            BRAZILIAN PORK & FISH STEW

            This serves six or eight and only needs salad, good bread and good company for a complete meal

            2 pounds pork butt with fat trimmed off cut in 1-inch cubes

            2 teaspoons pepper

            1 bay leaf

            1/3 cup olive oil

            1 teaspoon salt (we omit)

            3 to 5 tablespoons paprika -- Hungarian hot for heroes; mild for the rest.

            1 cup white wine

            2 large onions, thin sliced

            1 pound mixed fish fillets

            1 pound shrimp and/or clams

            Marinate the pork in a bowl with one teaspoon of pepper, bay leaf, olive oil and salt for two hours. Then reserve the marinade you drain from the meat. Meat needs to be quite dry -- we air dry for a bit.

            Put a little of the oil into the bottom of a Dutch oven and brown meat over medium-high heat. Add marinade and paprika and simmer for about 45 minutes uncovered until almost dry. Remove bay leaves.

            In another pot, brown onion rings in the rest of the oil. Put onions into meat pot. Brown fish fillets and carefully lay them on top the meat. Then add clams or shrimp to the onion pot, and cook until clams open and shrimp colors nicely. Note: we leave the shells on shrimp and let casual guests shuck their own shrimp.

            Move clams, shrimp and fish and onion pot scrapings to Dutch oven with meat, cook for a bit and serve in deep plates.

            We like this over toasted slices of French bread.

            Since I like more piri piri or hot sauce than my husband, he likes his piri piri served on the side. Otherwise, for chili heads, I'd add a couple of big teaspoons of piri piri to both the meat and onion browning oil.

            BRAZILIAN FISH CAKES

            Salted cod has an interesting story. Portuguese fishermen would sail to the cod banks off Newfoundland and split and pack the cod they caught in salt. They'd return to Portugal and the now dried and salted cod would be shipped to the Caribbean, Portuguese Goa and even Brazil. These days, with cod in short supply off Canada, new waters provide the salt cod.

            Of course, you'll have to soak the cod in water for at least a day -- 24 hours is better -- and change its water several times. Otherwise, you can use fresh firm fish of whatever type you've got on hand. We also make this with leftover cooked fish. The poached eggs on top are a Brazilian touch you can omit if you like. We find them a treat on days when my husband knows he won't get seasick. Note: I like a teaspoon of piri piri between the cake and a English muffin with the poached egg and a little extra mint garnish on top.

            1/2 pound salt cod, soaked or fish of choice

            3/4 cup olive oil

            2 cups dry bread crumbs

            1 nice mild onion chopped

            3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (optional but cuts heat)

            1/4 cup fresh coriander -- try Mexican markets

            2 tablespoons chopped parsley

            4 garlic cloves, crushed -- start with two

            3 teaspoons Hungarian paprika

            3 dashes of Tobasco or piri piri

            salt and pepper to taste.

            Eggs to poach for garnish. 4 to 6 depending on the size of your cakes.

            Poach the fish in a little water. Drain and flake.

            Combine the bread, olive oil, fish and remaining ingredients save eggs in a big bowl. I use a KitchenAid with a paddle for this. Divide into four or six patties --the easy way to do this is to roll balls of equal size. Then squash the balls into half-inch thick patties.

            Heat the water to poach the eggs and, when you drop the eggs in to poach. Brown the patties on both sides in a little olive oil --it's good for you -- or slip in a little butter. Top with the eggs and serve.

            COCONUT FISH & SHRIMP STEW

            This definitely deserves a look and Louis notes, "you can make nice Pina Coladas with the coconut milk too."

            2 mild onions, chopped

            4 to 6 cloves of garlic, mashed

            2 pounds fish

            2 pounds shrimp -- 1 1/2 in stew, 1/2 pound in sauce

            2 cups dried tomatoes, chopped fine

            4 to 5 tablespoons cilantro, chopped.

            Over medium heat saute onions in olive oil. Add garlic until brown. Add dried tomatoes and just enough water to prevent burning. Add cilantro (coriander) and fish and simmer for ten minutes over low heat. Add 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp and cook for five more minutes over low heat. Remove fish and shrimp with a slotted spoon.

            Sauce:

            2 tablespoons fresh ginger

            1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red crushed chilies

            1/2 cup peanuts, roasted

            1/4 cup almonds, roasted

            1/2 pound shrimp, minced

            1/3 cup bread crumbs

            juice of one lime or lemon

            1/4 cup olive oil

            2 tablespoons paprika

            Add the cooking liquid from the fish stew to a blender. Toss in coconut milk, nuts, ginger, bread and chilies. Blend. If sauce is thicker than heavy cream thin down with water or a little coconut milk.

            Simmer sauce 15 minutes so it thickens. Then add shrimp, oil and other ingredients.

            We serve this over rice and, in Brazil we had it over something that tasted like grits.

            BAHIAN BANANAS

            We don't usually do deserts but this one is too good to eat and too easy to make not to share.

            6 medium bananas on the firm side

            1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

            1/2 cup orange juice

            1/4 cup brown sugar

            3 tablespoons butter

            1 cup grated coconut

            Heat oven to 400 degrees

            Peel bananas cut into half along their length and put in a single layer in a buttered dish

            Combine other ingredients save coconut and pour over bananas. Dot bananas with butter.

            Bake 10 to 15 minutes, toss on coconut and serve.

            NOTE: you can make this at the last minute too!

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