Risoteca - The marriage of Risotto and Moqueca

The heart of a risotto with a soul of a moqueca.
The heart of a risotto with a soul of a moqueca.

I wanted my girlfriend - the gorgeous Ulli Vianna - to prepare a Moqueca, a typical fish and prawns stew from the north east of Brazil, for lunch. She though I was cooking and she wanted a risotto. Why not both? The great thing about risotto is its flexible nature. In the end we produced something of a transplant out of a Frankenstein movie. It became a pretty monster with the heart of a Risotto but with the soul of a Moqueca. Here's pretty much the recipe we came up with - but with a few tweaks of stuff we'd do differently next time. Maybe we'll do a video of it. Stay tuned.

For the Moqueca

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 200g pre-cooked tiger prawns
  • 200g of fish - pick something with a firm flesh like Tilapia, Red Snapper, Monkfish, Sea bream or Swordfish)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • half onion, diced
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced yellow bell peppers
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup fresh coriander, chopped

For the Risotto

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white whine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups Moqueca sauce (from above)
  • 2 tbsp dendê (Palm Oil)
  • 150g freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • A small nub of butter

How to prepare

  1. Marinate the prawns and fish in a mixture of crushed garlic, lemon juice, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Set it aside for 10 minutes
  2. Add the vegetable oil and diced onions to a medium sized saucepan or wok and sauté until translucent. Add the cubed peppers and the chilli and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let the coconut milk simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the prawns and the fish. Stir carefully not to break the fish. Let the fish cook for 4 minutes, turning the chunks half way through to cook both sides.
  4. Carefully fish out the fish and the prawns from the sauce, switch off the fire and stir in the fresh coriander (Leave a pinch to garnish the dish later). You will be left with around 2 cups of flavoured coconut milk with onion and pepper bits floating in it.
  5. Add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil to a medium non-stick frying pan and sweat the finely chopped onions, add the Artborio rice and stir for a minute. Then add the wine and continue to stir
  6. Slowly add one cup of the chicken stock - around a quarter of a cup at a time, and keep stirring the risoto, ensuring no grains of rice are left behind, stuck to the side of the pan
  7. Once the rice has absorbed the chicken stock, switch to adding in some of the Moqueca sauce (with the onion and pepper bits). Again, work with very small amounts of liquid at a time and keep stirring to help the rice to cook evenly and to release its all important starch.
  8. Keep adding the sauce and stirring. If you run out of sauce and the Risotto is not finished, use the remaining cup of chicken stock. Most people like their Risotto with a little bite to it. To achieve that, you want for most of the grain to cook and become translucent, but for a small bead of white rice to remain at the centre of every grain. Keep testing the grain while you cook it
  9. When you are happy that the Risotto has reached its cooking point, add in the prawns and 1 tablespoon of Dendê and stir for another minute. Then stir in the parmesan and the nub of butter. Check/Adjust the seasoning, cover it and let it rest for 1 minute.
  10. Plate individually, adding the fish on top. Decorate with a few drops of the remaining Dendê and a pinch of fresh coriander

Make rice the Brazilian way!

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