This Ecuadorian fish with coconut sauce, called pescado encocado, is a traditional coastal dish of fish seasoned with citrus and spices and then cooked in a sauce of cilantro, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and coconut milk. My memories of the beaches in Ecuador always include fresh seafood and fresh coconuts, sometimes separate and sometimes together like in this delicious recipe for fish cooked in a coconut sauce, which in Ecuador is called pescado encocado or just encoca’o, which literally translates as coconutted fish. In Ecuador this dish is made with corvina, a type of sea bass, I used halibut but any fresh fish would go well with this sauce, I’ve made it before with snapper, cod and salmon, and of course there are variations of fish encocado using shrimp, clams, crab, squid, etc.
Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce is an Ecuadorian coastal dish of fish seasoned with citrus and spices and then cooked in a sauce of cilantro, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and coconut milk.
- 2 ½ lbs halibut or any other fresh fish, cut in medium size chunks
- ¼ cup lime juice, from about 2 limes
- Juice from 2 oranges
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp paprika or achiote powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 2 tbs oil
- 1 medium sized onion, diced or sliced
- 2 bell peppers, diced or sliced
- 4 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 3 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
- Fresh shredded coconut - optional
- Salt to taste
- Mix the lime juice, orange juice, crushed garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander powder and salt in a small bowl.
- Marinate the fish chunks for at least an hour if possible.
- Heat the oil to prepare a refrito or base for the sauce, add the onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and salt, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Add the coconut milk to the refrito, mix it in well and cook for about 10 minutes, if you prefer a thicker sauce you can thicken the sauce by adding ½ tsp of tapioca starch or corn starch.
- Add the fish fillets, with the marinade, cover partially and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
- Add some freshly grated or shredded coconut (optional and if you have it available).
- Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice and fried ripe plantains.
You can use a fresh coconut to make the sauce, use both the coconut water and grated coconut flesh, but if you are in a rush – like me – you can use canned coconut milk for convenience.This is a very easy dish to make and the coconut gives it a nice twist, we eat a good amount of fish and I am constantly trying to prepare the fish in new dishes so that each time we have something a little bit different than the previous meal. I served this pescado encocado with rice and fried ripe plantains, you can also serve it with patacones or green plantain chips instead of the sweet ripe ones, just like many Ecuadorian and South American seafood dishes having rice as a side is a must, especially when there is a rich sauce as there is nothing better than soaking it up with rice.
Step by step preparation photos for Ecuadorian pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce
Other Latin American variations of fish/seafood with coconut sauce to try :
Dominican Pescado con Coco recipe
Brazilian Moqueca Bahian-Style Seafood stew recipe