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Ecuadorian pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

Recipe for fish with coconut sauce or Ecuadorian pescado encocado – this delicious coastal dish consists of fish seasoned with citrus and spices and then cooked in a sauce of cilantro, onions, bell peppers and coconut milk.

Fish in coconut sauce {Ecuadorian pescado encocado}

En Español

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, bell peppers and coconut milk.

Encocado de pescado recipe

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.

Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

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.

Fish encocado

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.

Fish in coconut sauce

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.

Fish in coconut sauce {Ecuadorian pescado encocado}

Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

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.
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Course: Fish, Main Course
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin, South American
Keyword: Coconut, Ecuadorian encocado, Fish with coconut sauce, Pescado encocado
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Marinating time: 1 hour
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 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 15-20 minutes. The exact time will vary based on the thickness of the fish. You can also reduce the cooking time by increasing the heat if you want it ready faster.
  • 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.

Step by step preparation photos for Ecuadorian pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

Marinade for pescado encocado
Marinade for pescado encocado
Preparation of encocado de pescado
Pescado encocado or fish in coconut sauce
Pescado encocado or fish in coconut sauce
Pescado encocado or fish in coconut sauce
Pescado encocado or fish in coconut sauce
Pescado encocado or fish in coconut sauce
Ecuadorian fish with coconut

Other Latin American variations of fish/seafood with coconut sauce to try :
Dominican Pescado con Coco recipe
Brazilian Moqueca Bahian-Style Seafood stew recipe

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  1. This website is a godsend!!! I am marrying into an Ecaudorian family and need some of the favorite dishes that my husband knows and loves from the coast. Now if you could only tell me how to get my pan de yucas to rise in a round shape instead of a hockey puck I would be blown away!!!

    Thanks Laylita!!

  2. Hello Layla,

    I made encocado (this dish) on Sunday for Iva and me. It was lovely. Thanks for the nice recipe!

    Greetings to your family,


  3. Prepared this dish along with grilled shrimp sauted in a sweet/citrus glaze. Yummy! I added some curry to the mix to set it off. The wife and I loved it!

  4. This was delicious. Filling but not heavy, very flavorful but nothing was over powering. I love spicy food, so I added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the fish(not the entire dish)before serving(looks nice too!) and it sat very well.(quite the understatement for my husband)

  5. This recipe is awesome!! Laylita, I have to tell you, I have been to many sites …in fact HUNDREDS but yours is one of my tops best sites, I am very impressed! You have some of the most awesome, incredible, delicious LATIN recipes!!! Thank you very much for sharing your recipes….You are truely a gift person sent from the heavens!

    I read your Bio, very good! I am from Mexico but raised in California and I love ALL LATIN food! From Mexican to Venezuelian, Cuban, you name it…..there is just something about the Latin flavor!

  6. I just made some fish with this sauce and it came out wonderful! I did make one major deviation though – I used almond milk instead of coconut milk. Same consistency and not too drastic a flavor difference. Regardless, it came out fantastic and was incredibly easy to make. Every component of this recipe would work incredibly well on its own. The marinade for this fish is a great idea as well. And of course, the sofrito and milk is delicious. Also, the fish I used was tilapia and after about 20 minutes it was perfect.

  7. Layita:

    The most delicious fish i ever taste, tahnk you for the recipe, it was amazing!! Every single flavor is just perfect!!

    i recomend this recipe a lot to any coconut and fish lover!!

  8. Laylita,
    Thank you for a great recipe. I took a shot at preparing this meal and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. I used cod and shrimp for my recipe and the meal turned out fantastic! It will now be a regular in our home menu rotation. For those that have not tried it yet….what are you waiting for? This is the kind of meal that leaves you rubbin’ your belly with a grin on your face when you’re all done licking the plate.

  9. OMG!!! One of my favorite Ecuadorian restaurants in Chicago makes this and I have been looking for a recipe. I can not wait to make this at home with shrimp!!!

    The pictures are a perfect guide too. Thanks!

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