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Pescado Encocado - Ecuadorian Fish in Coconut Sauce

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium red or white onion finely chopped
  • 1 red or yellow sweet bell pepper finely diced (¼-inch/.5cm)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika or achiote powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored and diced (½-inch/1 cm)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • juice of 1 orange ~4 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • juice of 1 lime ~2 tablespoons
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) full-fat premium coconut milk
  • lbs (700gms) firm-fleshed white fish, skinless & boneless (cod, haddock, snapper, sea bass)
  • large handful chopped fresh cilantro

optional, for serving:

  • shredded unsweetened coconut fresh or dried
  • sliced red chili pepper or dried red chili flakes or set the hot sauce bottle onto the table for diners to use if they wish

serve with:

  • cooked rice
  • fried plantain slices

Instructions

  • Set the rice on to cook.
  • Heat the oil in a shallow wide heavy-bottomed pot, braiser, or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the finely diced onion and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly cooked but not browned.
  • Add the minced garlic, spices, salt, and pepper. Cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, orange zest and juice, and lime zest and juice. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk and bring the sauce to a boil.
  • Cut the fish into large chunks (about 2-inches/5 cm) and add it to the sauce, spreading it out evenly in the pan. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat without lifting the lid and let it rest for 5 more minutes. Stir in a handful of chopped fresh cilantro, reserving some for garnish.
  • While the encocado is cooking, fry plantain slices in shallow oil til lightly browned on both sides. Set onto paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.
  • Serve the Pescado Encocado with cooked rice and the fried plantain slices. Sprinkle it with chopped fresh cilantro, shredded coconut, and thinly sliced chili pepper or a pinch of dried chili flakes if you'd like the dish spicier.
  • Serves 4.

Notes

You can replace ½ lb (250gms) of the fish with prawns or shrimp, or use all shrimp instead of the fish. Both variations are popular in Ecuador, too. I've added a bit of lime and orange zest (not included in traditional recipes) to help amplify the citrus flavours, but you can omit them if you wish.