Fragrant and spicy fish stew

Sep 17, 2021
The tomato coconut sauce with a hit of tangy lime is so different to anything I've tasted before. It's so simple and yet, so delicious! Source: Getty Images

Before you turn your nose up at the idea of making a fish stew, hear me out. I’ve never been a fan of fish served any other way than grilled in a light crumb with a salad and zesty vinaigrette. But that can become so boring … especially if you eat fish at least once a week. I was looking for a way to — ahem — spice up the weekly fish fare and stumbled across this exotic fish stew.

It’s a Brazilian dish. The tomato coconut sauce with a hit of tangy lime is so different to anything I’ve tasted before. It’s so simple and yet, so delicious! The sauce isn’t ‘blow your face off’ spicy, but there is just enough intensity to make it refreshing.

I recommend really letting the sauce simmer for a wonderful depth of flavour.

Serves 4-6.



  • 500g firm white fish fillets
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum, halved and sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 400g tinned tomatoes, diced or crushed
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice


  1. Combine fish, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add fish and cook until just cooked through and light golden brown. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Reduce stove to medium-high and heat 1 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same skillet. Add garlic and onion and cook for 1-2 minutes or until onion becomes translucent.
  4. Add capsicum and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add sugar, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and fish stock. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until broth thickens. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Return fish to the broth and reheat (roughly 2 minutes). Stir through 1-2 tablespoons lime juice. Serve with rice.




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