Here’s what you should know about me: I can’t follow recipes. To me more accurate… I don’t. For years–ever since I began eating Paleo and creating my own recipes for this blog–I’ve flipped through cookbooks, scanned recipes online, listened attentively when folks described how to make a particular dish and then gone my own way! It hasn’t turned out so badly, has it? But when Simone of Zenbelly (maybe you know her No Joke Dark Chocolate Cake?) gifted me a review copy of her new Zenbelly Cookbook, I opened it and decided its recipes deserved to be followed without tweaking!
Wow, am I glad I reached deep and found the strength to make Zenbelly recipes unaltered! 😉 This Brazilian Fish Stew is a great example: an unusual combo of flavors (citrus, tomato and coconut milk) combine to make something that tastes rich yet clean. At first glance I was reluctant to take some of the steps; when zesting citrus, for example, I usually end up zesting some of the skin off of my fingers. But there’s magic in citrus zest, people. Just do it. The rest of this recipe comes together sweet and easy as pie, and the result is a bit of a looker as well as tasty (which always wins points with me). In fact, almost every recipe in the Zenbelly Cookbook scores high on the gorgeous scale…
Some of my favorites include her blueberry muffins (the miracle of grain-free blueberry muffins never fails to make me smile, let alone ones as gorgeous as these) which are destined to be hitting my breakfast table as soon as humanly possible.
One thing I should not forget to show you is an example of the “before” photos that accompany every recipe. “Before” doesn’t quite do the concept justice. What they do is capture the ingredients, beautifully (geometrically!) arranged. Here’s the photo that accompanies Zenbelly’s recipe for Ginger Scallion Pork Meatballs.
Doesn’t this make the recipe seem so simple? So real? It’s one of the greatest things about the Zenbelly Cookbook: it’s not afraid to let the flavors of real food shine. Nothing is overly fussy, nothing is overly gimmicky, nothing screams “Paleo!”. The Zenbelly Cookbook is recipe after recipe written by an accomplished and confident navigator of flavor, texture and technique.
One last note about the Brazilian Fish Stew! I served this to my boyfriend (beloved taste-tester that he is) and his verdict? “I don’t eat a lot of seafood, but I could eat that stew all day. Every day.” So, this will be repeated in my kitchen along with many other Zenbelly Cookbook recipes. Enjoy the recipe for the Brazilian Fish Stew below, and snag a copy of Simone’s stellar compilation for yourself.
This recipe combines citrus, tomatoes, seafood and coconut milk for a clean, savory summer stew.
- 1 tsp finely grated lime zest, divided
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, divided
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- 1 lb wild cod, snapper, or any firm-fleshed, mild white fish fillets
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (14-oz) jar diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 (14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tsp of fish sauce
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine ½ tsp of the lime zest, ½ tsp of the lemon zest, the lime and lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro. Add the fish and shrimp and refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Melt the coconut oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds more.
- Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, fish sauce, and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
- Add the fish and shrimp along with the marinade. Bring to a simmer and cook another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the fish starts to flake and the shrimp is cooked through.
- Serve garnished with the remaining cilantro and citrus zest.