Ok, Brasil is not in Asia–I am aware of this–but sometimes, you have to step out of the box and give credit to a dish that deserves it.
That said, while in Brasil, one of the best dishes I ate was Moqueca de Peixe, a kind of fish stew made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and coconut milk that originated in Africa. It was brought over by slaves who ended up settling in the north eastern state of Bahia, from where a lot of good food comes. Even though this simple recipe uses very basic ingredients, it yields a fabulous dish. And while moqueca already has a little bit of a kick to it, I added a whole habanero pepper to mine to make it searingly delicious. You can also substitute shrimp for fish. Also, for a truly authentic taste, use palm (or dende) oil, which is popular in both Africa and Bahia.
Adapted from Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters (Hippocrene Books) by Cherie Y. Hamilton
A dish of African origin, the fish was originally wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over hot coals, but today it is made without banana leaves and on the stove top, usually in a clay pot.
2 ½ lbs. firm white fish (grouper, halibut, cod)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1 habanero pepper, sliced (optional)
1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
½ cup palm oil or vegetable oil
1.) Wipe the fish dry, cut them into serving pieces and put in a shallow glass casserole.
2.) In a food processor, puree the chopped tomato, small onion, cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Pour the mixture over the fish and marinate for 2 hours turning occasionally.
3.) Place the fish in a large skillet. Top the fish with the onion and tomato slices. Pour the coconut milk and oil over the vegetables; cook covered over medium heat until the fish and vegetables are tender (about 6 minutes). Serve with rice.
Makes 4-6 servings