Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RECIPE - Stewed Tambaqui Ribs (Caldeirada de Costela de Tambaqui)

Yesterday Flavors of Brazil suggested that farming the colossal Brazilian freshwater fish known as tambaqui could create an international market for this species and expecially for its ribs, which are the size and shape of pork baby back ribs - and just a wee bit healthier, being full of beneficial omega-3 oils rather than saturated pork fat.

In the meantime, you'll just have to come to Brazil for a dish of fish ribs - which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. Here's a typical Brazilian presentation for these ribs - a variation on a traditional way of cooking any number of fish here in Brazil - stewed with tomatoes and onions, potatoes and hard boiled eggs. It's related to the peixadas of northeastern Brazil and more distantly to Bahian moquecas. Obviously, this is a recipe for reading, not making, for most readers of the blog since tambaqui ribs aren't available in your fish market and there is really no other substitute that's acceptable. But in anticipation of that day when tambaqui ribs will be available internationally, here it is.
RECIPE - Stewed Tambaqui Ribs (Caldeirada de Costela de Tambaqui)
Serves 2

2 racks of tambaqui ribs (3 or 4 ribs per rack)
Juice of 3 limes
2 Tbsp vinegar
4 cups water
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 medium onion, quartered
2 medium tomatoes, quartered and seeded
1 Tbsp annatto paste or powder (sweet paprika can be substituted)
2 cooked and peeled hard boiled eggs
2 medium boiling potatoes, cooked and quartered
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Wash the ribs in plenty of running water. Combine the lime juice and vinegar and rub into both side of the ribs. Let stand for five minutes, then dry the ribs thoroughly with paper towels.

In a large saucepan, combine the water, salt, tomato paste, garlic, cilantro, quartered onion and tomatoes, and the annatto. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly and dissolve the tomato paste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to a slow boil and add the ribs, making sure they're covered with liquid. Cook for ten minutes, then add the cooked eggs and potatoes. Cook for five more minutes, then remove from heat.

In each of two deep serving plates, add one rib, one whole egg, and one quartered potato. Using a slotted spoon, remove solid ingredients from saucepan and distribute over the ribs. With a ladle pour just enough of the cooking liquid over to fill the serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately, accompanied with slices of French or Italian bread.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.

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