BRAZILIAN FISH KEBABS WITH COCONUT MILK
This recipe comes from the most unlikely of sources, a Rio de Janeiro meat emporium called Porcão (Big Pig).
Like most churrascarias (barbecue restaurants), Porcão specializes in an astonishing assortment of grilled
meats presented on swordlike spits and carved directly onto your plate at the table. Conspicuous consumption is the name
of the game: The waiters keep bringing food until you expressly ask them to stop.
The following kebabs caught my eye (and taste buds) precisely because they weren't meat. Porcão makes them with
surubinho, a giant mild, sweet freshwater fish from the Amazon. The closest equivalent in North America would be
halibut—which you could use—as well as tuna, sea bass, or any firm, meaty fish. I usually make the recipe
Coconut milk is a traditional ingredient in northern Brazilian cooking. Its high fat content keeps the fish moist
and flavorful. Be sure to use unsweetened coconut milk. For additional flavor, Porcão's chef bastes the kebabs
with garlic butter as they cook. The fish will have plenty of flavor without this step, but it does offer added richness.
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For the Fish and Marinade
1 1/2 pounds swordfish steaks (about 1 inch thick)
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
For the Basting Mixture (optional)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
For the Kabobs
1 medium onion, quartered
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
Trim the skin off the fish steaks. Rinse the fish under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch cubes and place in a medium-size non-reactive bowl. Set aside while you prepare the marinade.
Combine the coconut milk, oil, garlic, onion, green pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper in a blender and process to a smooth purée. Add the parsley and blend for 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as necessary; the mixture should be highly seasoned. Pour the mixture over the fish cubes in the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours (the longer the better), stirring occasionally.
Preheat the grill to high.
If using the basting mixture, place the butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat, either on the burner attachment of your grill, if you have one, or on the stovetop. Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat.
When ready to cook, break the onion quarters into individual layers. Remove the fish cubes from the marinade and thread onto the skewers, placing a piece of onion and a pepper square between each and dividing evenly. Oil the grill grate, then arrange the kebabs on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until the fish cubes are nicely browned on the outside and cooked through in the center, 8 to 12 minutes in all. Brush the kebabs with the garlic butter (is using) during the last minute of cooking.
Transfer the kebabs to serving plates or a platter and serve immediately.