Fish & Shrimp Encocado with Tostones
Encocado, which roughly translates to “cooked in coconut,” is a traditional dish eaten up and down the coasts of Latin America, but it’s particularly popular in Ecuador and Colombia. Each country tends to put its own spin on the dish, adding in their own local seafood, spices, and vegetables. In Colombia, encocado is typically made with fish, shrimp, or both — as well as fresh coconut milk and achiote (a.k.a. annatto), a bright-red seasoning derived from the spiky, flower-like seed pods of the achiote tree.
Here, we use mild, meaty cod and tender, briny-sweet shrimp. For convenience, we opt for canned coconut milk over the fresh stuff (though you should totally get out your cleaver and crack open a couple coconut shells if you want!). And we approximate the achiote’s peppery-sweet flavor and bright color with a blend of cumin, turmeric, and paprika.
Also in this encocado: bell pepper, tomato, green onion, fresh cilantro, and lime juice, which add freshness and zing to the silky, spiced coconut milk. As such, the stew tastes light and bright — never overly rich. We love how it gives the lean, subtle cod exactly the fat and layers of flavor it needs to shine in a dish. And it all tastes marvelous on a bed of white rice with some avocado slices. The lush coconut sauce is so satisfying with the chewy rice. Everyone in the test kitchen agreed — it’s pure comfort food.
We also fry up some green plantains for the bowl. While not a strictly traditional pairing for encocado, the golden tostones add crispy texture and a little bit of chew to the dish. And here, we soak them in water seasoned with salt, garlic, and lime juice so they add a touch of salty-sweet verve that melds wonderfully with the lime in the sauce.
Encocado with tostones is weeknight-friendly and pretty quick, though a little more involved than, say, your typical one-pot meal. It’s a fun one for the adventurous home cook — or the home cook who’s craving a break from the usual dinner routine. Plus, you get a full meal in one fell swoop (protein, veggies, fruit, sauce, and starches), so there’s no need to prep any sides or extras!
Our tips: Encocado works with pretty much any type of white fish — think swordfish, tilapia, mahi mahi, or halibut. Feel free to use whatever’s calling out to you. Also, leftover fried plantains make for awesome snackage!
Servings: 4 to 6
Fish & Shrimp Encocado with Tostones
Fish & Shrimp Encocado
Pat the cod dry with a paper towel. In a medium bowl, season the cod with salt, and toss it with the lime juice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the bell pepper, tomato, and a pinch of salt, and sauté until the vegetables start to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, cumin, turmeric, and paprika, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the coconut milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce has slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the cod and marinade, gently stirring to coat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute.
Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel and season it with salt and black pepper on both sides. Tuck the shrimp into the skillet. Cook, flipping halfway through, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and the cod is cooked through.
Stir in the green onions and chopped cilantro leaves. Season with salt, black pepper, and lime juice, if needed.
Serve the encocado hot over rice with the sliced avocado and tostones. Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions.
Using a paring knife, cut the ends off the plantains. Carefully cut a lengthwise slit through the peel but not through the flesh. Remove the peel, and slice the plantains into 1”-thick pieces.
Heat 2” of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Check the oil temperature by dipping one plantain into the oil. When the oil bubbles gently, it’s ready. Add the plantains and fry for 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until fork tender and golden in color.
Transfer the plantains to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool slightly. Center the bottom of a flat cup on the top of each fried plantain. Press down to flatten the plantains into ¼”-thick chips.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, lime juice, garlic, and salt.
Dip the plantain chips into the salt water for 10 seconds each, then return them to the paper towel-lined plate and dry them well to prevent the oil from splattering.
Increase the heat to high and let the oil heat for 5 minutes. Check the oil temperature by dipping one plantain into the oil. When the oil bubbles vigorously, it’s ready. Return the fried plantains to the hot oil, and fry them for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown.
Transfer the fried plantains to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle them with salt and let cool for 5 minutes.