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The Brazilian Kitchen
by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Peixe no Molho de Acai
Acai, the little crown jewel berry from the Amazon, is taking America by storm due to its high nutritional content. It can be a truly interesting ingredient if bought in frozen pulps, and it can be prepared in many ways, both sweet or savory, just like a berry. Its taste is so strong—a blend of red wine and chocolate—that the fruit is often matched with other berries to lighten it up a little. In this recipe, acai adds a depth of flavor to a sauce that complements a simply cooked fish. Grouper, monkfish, halibut, or even swordfish, all work well with the sweet taste of acai, but the humble tilapia, lightly crisped in flour and olive oil, is my favorite.
Makes 4 Servings


• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1 medium shallot, minced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/3 cup frozen acai pulp, thawed (about 3 ounces)
• 1/3 cup creme de cassis
• 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
• 1/2 cup Shrimp Stock
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• four 6-ounce tilapia fillets, skinless
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint leaves, for garnish


1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stir- ring frequently, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the bay leaf, acai, cassis, raspberry jam, and shrimp stock. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook at a quiet simmer, until the sauce starts to get thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

3. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small saucepan. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer again, until blended, about 2 minutes. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

4. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish in the flour on both sides and shake off the excess.

5. Pour the olive oil in a large nonstick pan and cook the fish over medium heat until it's lightly golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

6. Serve the fish on a warm plate and spoon the sauce on top and around. Garnish with the mint.

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