While in Livingston, Guatemala, we spent the evening with Mega, his sister and family learning how to cook the staple Garafuni dish of Tapado, a delicious seafood stew in a tasty coconut broth. Although its a stew, the dish is extremely hearty, filling, and eats like meal. Serve with a side of coconut rice which is made by simply boiling your rice in a half and half mixture of coconut milk and water. It was a relatively simple recipe although we were under careful instruction along the way. The recipe we used, simply used fresh fish (mangrove snapper) as the seafood component to the stew but it is very common to use a variety of seafood. Other tapado we had in Livingston included whole blue crab, shell-on shrimp, and clams in the shell. For the recipe below, most of the amounts of the spices were eyeballed by the chef and not measured, so please play around the with amount of salt, pepper and bouillon to your taste.
- 4 Green Plantains (peeled and sliced)
- Cocunut milk
- 2 brown coconuts
- Approximately 5 cups warm water
- 2 tomatoes plum tomatoes (diced)
- 1 small white onion (thinly sliced)
- (optional) 1 bell pepper (diced)
- 2 lbs snapper fillet
- (optional) assorted other seafood (e.g., 1 lbs shrimp, 1 lbs clams, 4 whole blue crabs)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp fresh basil
- chicken bouillon (1/2 tbsp, or to taste)
- salt (1/2 tsp or more to taste)
- pepper (1/4 tsp or more to taste)
- First make the coconut milk. Alternatively you can use store-bought canned coconut milk. To make it from scratch, grind down the flesh of both brown (dead) coconut into shreds.
Measure the amount of shredded coconut that was yielded and begin warming double the amount of water. For example, for 2.5 cups of shredded coconut – heat 5 cups of water. Add warm water to shredded coconut and massage with hands thoroughly for several minutes. Then strain out the coconut into a bowl, squeezing by hand every bit of liquid out of the shreds to maximize the coconut flavor. Discard the strained coconut and retain the coconut milk that was just created.
- In a large pot coated with vegetable oil, sauté sliced onion and tomato until tender (a few minutes).
- Add coconut milk and sliced plantains to pot and bring to a light boil, in which to the broth should turn to a creamy pinkish orange color.
- Add the fresh oregano and basil. Add salt, pepper, and chicken bouilion to taste.
- Simmer for at least 30 minutes or until plantains are tender like a cooked potato.
- Meanwhile, after lightly salting and peppering your fish fillets, sauté them in a large frying pan with vegetable oil pan for about three minutes on each side or until cooked through.
- Once the plantains in the broth are tender, add the fish fillets and any other seafood and cook for just a few more minutes.
- Remove from heat. Serve into individual bowls with ladle. Serving suggestion: coconut rice.
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