Chef JJ Johnson’s Moqueca Recipe
August 5, 2016

Chef JJ Johnson’s Moqueca Recipe

This lovely Brazilian-inspired stew comes from JJ Johnson of The Cecil — catch him at Harlem EatUp! where he will be hosting a Dine-In alongside guest chefs Jonathon Waxman, Alex Guarnaschelli and Michael Jenkins. Try pairing this complex dish with a crisp, unoaked, and dry white Bordeaux from AOC Entre-Deux-Mers or for another great option, a fresh young Bordeaux Rosé.

IngredientsFor the Moqueca:

  • 2 pounds yuca, peeled and medium diced, divided

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup spinach

  • 2 plum tomatoes

  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded

  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 medium carrots, medium diced

  • 1 yellow onion, medium diced

  • 1 celery stalk, medium diced

  • 1 poblano pepper, medium diced

  • ½ cup green curry paste

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 pound (1½ cups) okra, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch rings

  • 8 cups chicken stock

  • ½ cup fish sauce

  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (preferably fresh)

  • 8 ounces salt cod, soaked overnight

  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Prawns

  • 1 pound (12 medium) head-on prawns, peeled and deveined

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

For Assembly

  • Steamed rice, for serving

  • Thinly sliced Thai basil, for garnish

  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish



Make the Moqueca:

  • In a blender, combine three-quarters of the yuca with the water, spinach, tomatoes and jalapeño. Purée until smooth and set aside.

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, 1 minute. Add the carrots, onion, celery and poblano pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the curry and tomato pastes, and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.

  • To the pot, add the remaining quarter of the yuca, the reserved yuca purée, the okra, chicken stock, fish sauce and lime leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the yuca is tender and the liquid is thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, in a small pot, cover the salt cod with cold water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Repeat this process 2 more times, then roughly chop the salt cod.

  • Add the salt cod and the smoked salmon to the stew, and cook until the fish is opaque, 3 to 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, then keep warm until ready to serve.

  • Prepare the Prawns:

  • In a medium bowl, toss the prawns with the parsley, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Season with salt. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the prawns and cook, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

  • Assemble the Dish:

  • Divide steamed rice between bowls and ladle the stew over it. Top with 2 prawns and garnish with sliced Thai basil and scallions, then serve.

  • Wine Pairing

    With this complex dish and its strident hot peppery flavors, choose a crisp, unoaked, Sauvignon Blanc dominant dry white from the Entre-Deux-Mers. The tangy citrus and grassy flavors will add a delicious refreshing kick and fruitiness to this dish. Another great pairing option would be a fresh young Bordeaux Rosé – where the exotic citrus, red berry fruit notes will complement the diverse flavors of this fish stew.

    NOTE: Entre-Deux-Mers wines may be labeled as Entre-Deux-Mers or simply Bordeaux Blanc.

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