I first met Rubens Leite in 2009 on Frenchmen street in New Orleans, a popular street for live music and dancing. Every night he parked his taco truck to serve a diverse crowd of bar hoppers, musicians, tourists and night shift workers. His colorfully painted taco truck grabbed anyone’s attention but more so his strong Brazilian accent and Santa Claus smile.
I like many other New Orleanians frequented his truck every weekend. The smell of pineapple pork tacos and Honduran tamales lured us from the Blue Nile or Lazziza’s night club to buy a late night snack and mingle amongst gutter punks and hipsters. 🙂
When I approached Rubens about contributing his story and recipe to my cookbook he accepted with Brazilian glee. My friendship with Rubens introduced me to the Brazilian community in New Orleans where I happily danced samba on hot nights and drank caipirinha to cool my thirst.
To read Ruben Leite’s story and how he came to New Orleans from Brazil via New York during the aftermath of Katrina, his contributing recipe and amazing photographs you will need to buy my cookbook 🙂 New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also available at my favorite New Orleans bookstores, Octavia Books, Garden District Bookstore, Maple Street Book Shop and Kitchen Witch Cookbook Shop.
Here is my recipe for Brazilian Moqueca Stew a lo Latino Who Dat Nation. dedicated to the Brazilian New Orleans community. Bom Apetite!
2 large whole tilapia filets cut in 4 large pieces
1lb. of frozen crawfish tails
2lb. of peeled jumbo shrimp
2 quarts of seafood stock
4 Roma tomatoes
6 ahí dulce peppers
1 chopped yellow onion
6 minced garlic cloves
1tbs.of olive oil
1tbs. of palm oil
1 8oz. can of coconut milk
1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbs. of cumin
1 tbs. of adobo
1 tbs. of paprika
1 tsp. of Nigerian pepper soup mix or 1tsp. cayenne pepper
Cooked white or brown rice to serve
1/3 cup of fresh like juice
4 limes cut into wedges
1 sliced and pitted avocado
Season tilapia with paprika, salt, cumin and Nigerian pepper. Add lime juice and 4 minced garlic cloves.Set aside. In a bowl, season shrimp and crawfish tails with paprika, cumin and adobo. Set aside. Chop 2 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 of an onion, and 3 minced ahí dulce peppers (remove seeds). Sauté on medium low heat with 2 tbs. of olive oil in a large stock pot. Add 3 minced garlic cloves. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add seafood stock, coconut milk and palm oil. Boil for 30 minutes on medium low heat. Taste stock and re-season with salt and adobo if need be. Add tilapia. Cook for 7 minutes. Slice two Roma tomatoes, 1/2 of a yellow onion and 3 ahí dulce peppers (remove seeds). Set aside. Finely chop 1 bunch of fresh cilantro and fresh basil. Set aside. Add shrimp and crawfish and cook for two minutes to stock pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped Roma tomatoes, onions, ahí dulce peppers, fresh cilantro and basil. Serve soup with fresh avocado slices, cooked rice and lime wedges. Buen Provecho!
Note: All ingredients accept crawfish tails may be found at a Caribbean or Latin grocery store in your city.