Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RECIPE - Spicy Peacock Bass (Tucunaré na Pimenta)

This recipe comes from Brazil's unbelievably massive Amazonian rain forest, where the fish known as tucunaré is a favorite with sports fishermen and with cooks of all sorts. Its flesh is white, firm and meaty and it's not strongly flavored. Nor is it full of bones, as many other fresh-water fish tend to be. Because tucunaré is a relatively large fish, somewhere between 1 and 3 feet in length it is suited to being filleted, being stuffed and baked whole, or being grilled or fried.

This recipe calls for tucunaré fillets. The fillets are fried and then served with a spicy sauce containing chunks of green bell peppers and cubed potatoes. Served with rice and a green salad, it makes a substantial meal.

You can, and probably will have to, substitute any other similar white-fleshed fish for the tucunaré. Unless you live in the Amazon, that is. Grouper and snapper make excellent substitutes - just make sure you don't try to substitute a fish that is too delicate, or which flakes too easily, such as sole or cod.
RECIPE - Spicy Peacock Bass (Tucunaré na Pimenta)
Serves 2

2 white-fish fillets, tucunaré or similar, about 1/2 lb (200 gr) each
juice of 2 limes, fresh-squeezed
4 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
2 Tsp salt
1/2 cup all-purpose wheat flour
4 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
4 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and quartered
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cooked, quartered
1 small chili pepper, jalapeno or serrano or similar, seeded and finely minced
1 cup water
handful finely chopped cilantro
Season the fish fillets with lime juice, vinegar and the salt. Let stand for three minutes, then pat dry with paper towel. Spread the flour out on a working surface and dredge the fillets in the flour, making sure they are completely covered. Reserve.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, and cook the fillets, one at a time, until the coating is nicely browned. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towels, and reserve, keeping warm.

In a large saucepan melt the butter and when it's hot add the garlic, onion, tomato, green pepper and potatoes. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, or until the tomato begins to break down. Stir to mix, then add the water and the cilantro. Bring to a boil and cook for a few more minutes until the sauce slightly reduces.

Put the reserved fillets on a deep serving platter. Top with the vegetables from the sauce, then pour the sauce over. Serve immediately.

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


  1. As a Brazilian, I love coming here and learning more things about Brazil. But this post is spetacular ! How come you don't have thousands of followers and tens of comments ???

  2. Thank you so much for the compliment, Anita. I'm so pleased that you find the blog worth returning to. And although I don't receive millions of hits daily, I'm very happy with the response the blog has engendered. Daily visitors number in the thousands, if not the millions. One day, maybe!