My new husband’s originally from Bahia, a state in northeast Brazil. Salvador, his home town, is not unlike New Orleans (and other southern port cities) in that there’s been a huge influence of a variety of cultures, especially African culture (due to slavery centuries ago). Red palm oil (also known as dende), okra, and more are not uncommon in the region.
One of the styles of food that Bahia is infamous for is moqueca – a stew with a coconut-and-tomato based broth – served with rice. Typically, seafood is featured, but my husband’s favorite way to eat it is with eggs. Since I love seafood, we usually make two batches, one for him and one for me (with white flesh fish, shrimp, and/or mussels). If you use it with seafood, add about 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice per half pound of meat.
- Moqueca de ovos
- 2 Tbs dende (palm oil) or other nutty oil – olive oil will do in a pinch
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 6 eggs
- 1-2 Tbs chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and saute the peppers and onion. Saute until the onion is transparent. Add the pureed tomatoes and coconut milk. Add one cup water and simmer for the flavors to mingle properly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (And in this case, it’s a literal to taste — if you don’t have enough salt, the dish will not taste as bright and cheery as it should.)
- Break the eggs apart into a bow and place them on the sauce one by one. Cover and let cook until the yolks are soft and clear and white, that is, about one minute. (Alternatively, you could stir it around at this point to make more of a scrambley egg if you’re not a fan of poached eggs – I’ve had it both ways, and they’re both delicious.)
- Sprinkle the chopped cilantro and serve with rice.
- If you like things on the spicy side, you could add fresh minced serrano or jalapeno to the dish as well.