Bahian Seafood Stew

Living where we do, everyone’s bound to break bread with Brazilians at some point in time. I have quite a few friends from Brazil, most met through fishing and surfing, and it’s great sharing stories (and food) with people from such a different background and culture. The country of Brazil has an interesting history and, when it comes to food, there’s obviously a lot of Portuguese influence… but also African. From a culinary standpoint, that just means more flavor. With Bahia located in the northeast part of Brazil, there’s no shortage of coconuts, and this is the backbone of a dish I’ve been wanting to share for quite a while now.  

Making this dish I was reminded how much food is globally interconnected; it’s almost a hot version of Poisson Cru, a cold ceviche-esque Tahitian masterpiece. That’s a recipe I promise to share with you once the weather changes and you’re looking for something cool when the weather gets hot. But for now, this is something I’m hoping you’ll try to tackle and really push your cooking skill level. Honestly, the only thing that may be overwhelming is the prep itself. Beyond that, you’re in the clear. Unlike the speed demanded from last week’s fried rice, this recipe allows you to just chill out and add ingredients a little bit at a time. So, as long as you prep your ingredients properly, this recipe is pretty low maintenance. It’s rich. It’s salty. It’s sour. It’s floral. It’s different. It’s really, really good. 

Next Recipe: Shrimp and Crab Kimchi Fried Rice

Ingredients vary, but the staples of Bahian Seafood Stew are seafood, coconut, chili, lime, onion, ginger, lemon grass, garlic and tomatoes. Everything else can be added, subtracted and/or substituted. In this case, one of my fish mongers had some amazing Baja grouper that was as good as it gets, along with some beautiful shrimp. I’d honestly prefer a shell and head-on shrimp for this dish for added flavor, but it turned out stellar anyway, so no harm done (and it was easier to eat).  

I doubt you need a reminder, but rockfish season just opened in our region. This is prime time for this recipe. You don’t need Baja grouper and shrimp to make it happen. Vermillion and Sheepshead. Lingcod and Treefish. Chucklehead and Baberpole. It doesn’t matter. It all works. These flavors are so pungent and intense that you can use any mild seafood to absorb it all and make it happen. I want to hear your version! 

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Recipe: Bahian Seafood Stew

Recipe: Bahian Seafood Stew


  • 1 ½ pounds Baja grouper - ½ inch cubes (or rockfish, bass, halibut, etc.)
  • Two dozen shrimp of choice - deveined and cut into chunks
  • I kept it simple, but you could also add crab, lobster, clams, etc.
  • ½ jumbo sweet yellow onion - cut into ¼ moon slivers
  • 1 shallot - minced
  • 1 finger of ginger - peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic - peeled and minced
  • 3 carrots - julienned or shredded
  • 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes - quartered and de-seeded
  • 2 Fresno chilis - minced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass - whole, but smashed
  • Juice of 6 key limes (small)
  • 1 cup (loose) watercress - chopped - added at the very end
  • 2 TBSP B & O Persian Lime EVOO for sautéing
  • ½ cup Ziobaffa pinot grigio for deglazing the pan
  • 1 box vegetable stock of your preference
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup dried coconut shavings - rough chop
  • 1-2 TBSP Turmeric
  • 1 cup (loose) cilantro leaves - mince and added for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Jasmine rice - enough to feed your party


  1. Start by cooking the rice and keep warm.
  2. Wash, dry, cut and organize all ingredients in order of cooking. You’ll start with the ingredients that take the longest, and then the final ingredients will be the ones requiring the least amount of cooking time.
  3. Turn your stove on to high heat, put enamel cast iron pan/pot/casserole dish on flame to heat and add 2 TBSP B&O Persian Lime EVOO and 1 TBSP grapeseed oil (high smoking point). Add the ginger, onion, shallot and lemongrass and cook for a few minutes, then the carrots, chilis and garlic. Stir and keep it moving and then add the tomatoes.
  4. Add the white wine to deglaze, cook down for a few minutes and then add the vegetable stock, coconut milk and coconut shavings. After it’s incorporated, throw on the watercress.
  5. Now it's time to remove the lemongrass stalks, which aren't really edible. Season the fish and shrimp with salt and pepper and add. Give that a stir and then pour in the juice of 6 key limes/Mexican limes.
  6. Lay down bed of rice, ladle the stew over the rice, garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges and serve.

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