Archive for March, 2011

Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 4 (São Paulo)


History: “Canja de galinha” is a very common supper dish in the Northeastern states in Brazil, but in this series it’s in the book for São Paulo (from the Southeast), so I believe it’s common in other parts of Brazil as well – which makes sense, since it’s easy to make, quite cheap (chicken has always been among the cheapest sources of meat in Brazil), and it has that “we’ve always had it” quality that passes between generations. It’s also the supper of choice when one is under the weather, which sometimes gives this quite nice dish a bad rep.

Variation from the original: I don’t think there is any “original” recipe for chicken soup – everyone has it’s own – but since I started from the book, here’s what I did differently (besides the quantities): only used chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken (that’s what I had), used cooked rice instead of cooking it in the soup (I had leftovers), and cut the chicken in cubes instead of making “pulled chicken”.

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in small (1/2” cubes)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped in small cubes
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • water
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • chopped parsley or cilantro

Trim the fat off the chicken, cut it in small cubes, then season it with salt and pepper, then reserve. In a pan, heat the oil then add the onion, garlic and carrots, sautéing them until the onion starts becoming soft. Add the chicken and toss it for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the bay leaves, then enough water to cover the chicken, plus 1/2”. Cook it for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.

When the chicken is done, add the rice, and cook for another 2-3 minutes (to heat up the rice). Serve it hot with chopped parsley or cilantro



Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 6 (Pernambuco)


History: “Peixada” is a very common dish in the state of Pernambuco, and growing up there I had it a lot. Usually made in large quantities for a big family reunion, it consists basically in a large fish stew with lots, lots of vegetables, and a hard-boiled egg. It’s always served with white rice and “pirão”, a creamy side dish made with the liquid from the stew and yucca flour (another typical ingredient in Brazilian cooking). The fish mostly used is called “cavala” (similar to Spanish mackerel), cut in steaks with the bone in.

Variation from the original: I couldn’t find the mackerel, and the only fish in steaks with bone I could find was salmon (I had to buy a whole one and ask for the person in the counter to chop it for me), so salmon it was (with the added advantage that salmon is one of the cheapest fishes around here). It tasted really good, and the only problem was that the fish bones didn’t come out quite easily, so we had more work than usual to eat it. Other things were that I didn’t find fish heads to make the stock (I only went to one supermarket, and they didn’t have any kind of fish heads), so I used a few pieces from the tail. I also couldn’t find all the vegetables listed in the recipe (okra and “maxixe”, which I don’t know the translation to English). I also changed some of the amounts of the ingredients to match what I had at home.

Ingredients from specialty stores: I got the “farinha” (toasted ground yucca root) from a Brazilian store. Everything else was found in my local Fred Meyer.


  • For the fish stock:
    • 1/2 lb fish tail / meat (as I mentioned, fish heads would be better, and in larger amount – the recipe asked for 1Kg, ~2lb)
    • 1 onion, chopped in large chunks
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped in large chunks
    • 1 cup of chopped cilantro
    • 1 cup of chopped green onions
    • 6 minced garlic cloves
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 3 quarts of water
    • salt & pepper
  • For the fish:
    • 1 medium salmon (about 3lb), chopped in 1”-thick steaks
    • 6 garlic cloves
    • juice of 1 lime
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1 red bell pepper, cut in 4 quarters
    • 1 green bell pepper, cut in 4 quarters
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 yellow onion
    • 4 medium potatoes
    • 4 carrots, chopped in 2-3” pieces
    • 1 chayote squash, cut in 4 quarters (seed removed)
    • 1 head of cabbage, cut in 4 quarters
    • 1/2 lb. of green beans, ends trimmed
    • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • For the “pirão”:
    • 5 cups of the liquid from the stew
    • 1/2 to 1 cup of “farinha”

Prepare the stock: put all ingredients in a large pot and start cooking; when it starts boiling, cook for another 30 minutes, then reserve.

Season the fish with the lime juice, salt and pepper, then reserve. Strain the stock, removing all the vegetables and the fish, and return it to the (large) pot in the stove. When it starts boiling again, start adding the vegetables, in reverse order of their time to cook: first carrots, chayote and cabbage, then potatoes, onions and green beans, then bell peppers. The last thing to go to the pan is the fish, since it cooks quite fast (it took about 10 minutes for the salmon), being careful not to overcook.

When the fish is done, remove 4-5 cups of the liquid to another pan to prepare the “pirão”: with the stove at medium heat, stirring constantly, slowly add the “farinha” until it starts to thicken (careful not to add too much of it, since after you take it out of the stove it will thicken a little more) – for me it’s usually after a little more of 1/2 cup of “farinha”.

Arrange the vegetables in a serving dish with the steaks, some of the stock and the eggs cut in half. Serve with the “pirão” and white rice.



Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 12 (Alagoas)


History: With its rich coast and many small lagoons, the state of Alagoas is well known for its seafood, not only with its many different kinds of fish, but also with shrimp, lobster, squid, octopus, oysters, different species of crab and shellfish. This one is a quick/easy dish, which I prepared yesterday (and it turned out really good).

Variation from the original: The recipe asked for “camurim” or “robalo” (sea bass), but I couldn’t find it, so I used fresh cod. It used lime to season the fish, but I only had a lemon (and it turned out just fine). The fish was served with a pumpkin purée, but since I didn’t find any good squash in the supermarket I used sweet potatoes. Also, the orange sauce was supposed to be made with “real” oranges (juice of 6 oranges), I used store-bought orange juice (making it even quicker). Finally, the recipe asked for table cream, and I used whipping cream (just increased the amount as it’s thinner).

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • Fish:
    • Cod filets (about 1.5lb)
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil for frying
    • salt & pepper
  • Orange sauce:
    • 1.5 cup orange juice
    • 4 tbsp. sugar
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
    • 1 large sweet potato (a little over 1lb), peeled, cubed
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • salt & pepper

Season the fish with the lemon, salt and pepper, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, fry the fish filets both sides (about 5 minutes per side, depending on their thickness) and reserve. In a small sauce pan, prepare the sauce: mix the orange juice and the sugar, and cook in medium heat (careful for the liquid not to bubble up and go out of the pan) for about 20 minutes (the liquid will reduce by more than half). Add the wine, then cook for another 2-3 minutes and reserve.

Cook the sweet potato until it’s fork-tender (this can be started while the sauce is being cooked). In a medium pan, add the butter and the potato, mashing it well. Add in the cream, then season to taste with salt & pepper.

Cover the fish with the sauce, and serve it with the mashed sweet potatoes.