Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Week 15 - Brazilian

For the Brazilian challenge, I decided to make a fish stew based on this recipe I found on Allrecipes. It sounded relatively quick and easy, and didn't require any ingredients that I would have trouble finding nearby. I couldn't remember trying any fish stews at Brazilian restaurants before so I didn't know how the recipe would compare, but just hoped it would taste good.

The first step was marinating the fish, which I started the night before. The ingredients for the fish portion were:

- juice of 2 limes ($0.58)
- 1 tbsp ground cumin ($0.08)
- 1 tbsp paprika ($0.08)
- 1 tbsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- pinch of salt ($0.02)
- a few grinds of black pepper ($0.03)
- about 1 lb of cod, cut into chunks ($6.43)

The marinade was very simple - just mixing all the ingredients together and then adding the cod. I stirred it up a few times to make sure the fish was all coated, and then tried to submerge as many pieces as possible in the marinating liquid. By the time I pulled it out to make the stew, it had probably marinated for over 15 hours. It's been a few weeks, so I don't remember exactly how long, but probably upwards of that.

The rest of the ingredients for the stew were:

- a couple tbsp of olive oil ($0.30)
- 1 large onion, chopped ($0.60)
- 3 bell peppers, chopped ($2.27)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained ($0.80)
- 1 can of coconut milk ($1.69)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped ($1)

The total for all the components of the stew was approximately $13.93. Not terrible for a fish meal for two. We ate it over brown rice, so that would add another $1 or so to the total, bringing it to $14.93. I had spent most of the day wondering how this stew could possibly be filling enough to feed 6 people like the recipe said, and then decided that I would just put it over rice. When I re-read the initial description of the recipe before making it, I realized that they said they serve this with rice or tortillas. Guess I missed that the first time since it wasn't in the recipe itself (which I did read carefully in advance, learning from the past), but at least I was on the right track on my own.

To make the stew, I heated the olive oil in a large pot and then cooked the onions over medium to medium high heat. Once they were translucent, I added the peppers, diced tomatoes, fish, and coconut milk. (I always forget to shake the coconut milk before opening the can. I need to get better about that.) I let it simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often.

After the 15 minutes were up, I added the cilantro and let it keep cooking for another 10 minutes until the fish was completely cooked as the recipe suggested. Unfortunately I think that might have been too long for the fish we used, since when I tried it after that, it seemed a little on the tough, rubbery, and dry side, and was certainly not the flaky, soft fish I was expecting to find.

Overall, the stew was fine and made for a good dinner. We liked the flavors, although the coconut milk didn't add as much flavor as we thought it would once it was mixed with everything else. If I remember correctly, A also thought it had a little bit too much lime juice, but that's probably because I added whatever marinade was left into the stew along with the fish. I didn't mind it though. For me, the biggest issue was that the fish wasn't the texture I wanted it to be. Whether that was because it marinated too long in that combination or because I cooked it for too long, I don't know, but I had been hoping it would turn out better than it did. Even if we might not make this exact dish again, I'm glad we tried it.

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