Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baked Baby Shark


Finding quality frozen fish in the supermarket has been a challenge. There are three supermarkets within about three blocks of our apartment, but all of them sell frozen fish that has been simply wrapped in plastic and they ALWAYS have ice crystals all over the fillets (or shrimp) and are most certainly freezer burned. Only the salmon comes vacuum packed.
I usually make a trip to the municipal fish market for fresh fish, but that’s not always possible on a busy day.
A few days ago I went to Horti-Fruity (it’s like a Whole Foods produce store) and looked through their frozen fish section. There they have everything vacuum pack, but the price is scary. Among the R$30 fillets I found a package of two cação steaks for R$10. Perfect.
Cação is baby shark, referred to as “smooth hound” in the States, although I never ate it before moving to Brazil. It’s tasty. The flavor is light, but it definitely has a flavor of its own. Luiz likes it because it does not have any bones (except for the spine running down the middle).
I had no idea how to cook it, so I asked several of my older female students for ideas.  Here’s what I came up with. Forgive me for not having exact measurements, but they aren’t really necessary. Follow your gut.

Ingredients: (I made just one of the steaks. Increase ingredients as necessary when feeding more people.)

1 cação steak, fresh or thawed
½ of an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ green pepper, cut into medium size chunks
½ red pepper, similarly cut
1 medium tomato, seeded, cut into large chunks

a few fresh mushrooms, sliced
fresh hot peppers, minced, to taste
some green onions and parsley, chopped
coconut milk (1/3 cup more or less)

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (about 400 degrees F)

Sauté the onions until clear. Add the garlic and cook until it smells wonderful. Add the peppers, tomato, mushrooms and hot peppers. Cook over medium heat until just soft, but not totally pooped. Add the coconut milk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place a small amount of your vegetable mixture in a baking dish. Place your cação steak on top of that, then cover it with the remaining vegetable mixture. Sprinkle your chopped green onions and parseley over the top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve hot with your favorite accompanyments.