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Monday, April 6, 2009

Fish in Coconut sauce (Pescado con Coco)

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but I'm back! This one will definitely be well worth the wait. So my good friend and I were studying...or at least trying to, and we were terribly distracted because we were both really hungry. So I started looking around online to see what type of local international restaurants were good in Charlottesville, where I study. After looking at a few places, particularly a Korean place and a Central American/Caribbean fusion restaurant, I decided I wanted Dominican food. Lucky me, no real Dominican food in Charlottesville.  How sad. But lucky me again, I DO know how to make my own Dominican food. Despite the lack of Dominican markets in the area, there are a few dishes I can make using what's available in the regular grocery store.

My friend Justin had already taken out Tilapia to thaw, so I remembered I had a recipe for Pescado con Coco (fish in coconut sauce) from when I was in the Dominican Republic. I had never made it nor eaten it before, but I figured it was worth a try. There are very few Dominican dishes I don't like. So we went to the store and gave it a go. Let me say, it was DELICIOUS!! For those of you who are picky about anything beyond the typical American or have friends or family members like that, this is the meal for you. I can't imagine anyone not liking this, and I have some terribly picky eaters in my family. I will likely make this dish for Easter to get the feet of some of those people wet as far as the international food goes.

So let me get down to the nitty gritty. This dish is AMAZING! It's creamy and has a very slight sweetness, which is a nice contrast to the faint lime flavor and the nice dark oregano that ties it all together. This one is a MUST try!!! Here's the recipe! It's courtesy of a kind santiaguera in the Dominican Republic, one of my host mom's neighbors when I studied there. Many thanks to her!


Dominican Fish in Coconut Sauce

6 pieces of fish is what I used. What you want is enough to cover a rectangular Pyrex
dried oregano
Adobo spice mix (found in Latin foods isle of any grocer or in Latin market. Get the Goya brand with the blue top)
4-5 garlic cloves, mashed
1 onion (sliced into rings)
about 1/2 cubanelle pepper (light green pepper found in most grocery stores ( here's a pic Be careful not to confuse with Hungarian
1 can coconut milk (NOT cream. They are different)
          This can be found at any grocery in the Asian section of the International aisle or in any
          Latin market or Asian market) If you have to get Thai kitchen brand because that's all
          you see, be aware that it will likely be completely separated when you open it. Don't
          worry, just scoop it all out and it will mix once you stir the sauce over the stove
2 TB tomato paste (NOT tomato sauce)
          be sure your paste is not seasoned/flavored - sometimes it is written small on the front
          and you may not notice it says basil flavor)
2 tsp cilantro
1-2 limes (NOT key lime)
flour - for battering the fish (don't do a cornmeal mix, just regular flour)
oil for frying

Heat a frying pan with oil over medium heat. Heat another pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat (# 3 or #4). Wash the fish with lime (rub lime juice all over the fish and do not rinse it off ). Salt and pepper the fish and further season with Adobo. Sprinkle lightly with oregano (don't overdo it. Maybe 5-6 pieces of oregano per side. you dont want a coating).

 Season the flour generously with Adobo, add salt and pepper, and add oregano). Place vegetables (garlic, onion, cubanelle) and tomato paste in pan with olive oil over low heat and sautee, mixing tomato paste in well and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or burning of paste. Sautee until translucent. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

In the meantime, toss the fish in seasoned flour until well-coated. Fry fish until golden brown on both sides.  Drain oil with paper towel and place fish in Pyrex in a single layer.

 Shake can of coconut milk well and pour it into pan with sauteed vegetables (should be translucent at this point) and tomato paste. Stir until uniformly mixed and pour sauce over fried fish.

 Enjoy!! Ahi tiene tu pe'ca'ito con coco pa' chuparse lo' dedo' (There you have your finger-likin' good fish in coconut sauce)!

 Buen provecho!!

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