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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. Hi Laylita,
    I just want to take the time to say THANK YOU! your recipes are amazing. I prepared this dish many times and once again tonight with snapper and everybody enjoyed.
    I saw that you are posting new sauces and drinks, keep up the good work!

  2. Acabamos de cenar este delicioso plato y realmente nos encanto! Una ricura, lleno de sabores buenisimos. Esta para repetirse!! Te felicito

  3. I love your site and have tried numerous recipes. As an white-bread american girl married to an Ecuadorian, I am so glad I found such an approachable, clear, and beautiful site that teaches me to make the things my husband grew up with. The last time we were in Ecuador, I fell in love with pescado encocado, and I was hoping to find a recipe when I got back. I should have known your site would have the best. Also, I thought I would let you know that when I did a search I found that someone else ripped your post and reposted it on their site (with one of your pictures and everything) without giving you any credit. Here’s the link: abritinecuador.com/2013/04/13/pescado-encocado-or-fish-with-coconut-sauce/.
    Again, thanks for such a wonderful blog!


  4. Laylita- I’m from Colombia and LOVE your recipes and your pictures. Amazing. You’re truly gifted. The step by step pictures makes cooking so easy. I’m making this recipe soon (and the passion fruit mousse). Yum!!!

  5. Laylita you are the BEST! I have been living in Ecuador for over two years and I always like to refer to your website when I need to explain a food dish to my mom. I recently returned from a Independence Day trip to Esmeraldas and hoped you would have a recipe for Encocado that in my opinion is the main reason to visit the province. I am happy to know that with your recipe I can replicate it when I return back to the States. Thank you!

  6. Hi Laylita

    I love your recipes. I will cook this dish tomorrow. I have just a question, do I add the marinade in the refrito also??

    Greetings from Denmark :)

    Hi Laylita – I didn’t, but you can do so, it will definitely add more flavor.

  7. Im Ecuadorian, living out of my country for over 8 years now. Trust me this is really goooood. And yes, You can also make it with shrimps, which I also love. And what about Cangrejos Encocados? (crubs in a coconut sauce) mmm thats yummy.

    Aww I miss my country, it food, beaches, friendly people, etc. Hopefully I will visit it tghis coming winter. Can’t wait.

  8. I love your website! I too grew up in Ecuador, in Guayaquil and Quito. My favorite dish to order whenever my family went to the beach was Camarones Encocados, so I made your recipe tonight with a few changes. I used medium shrimp instead of fish, and marinated it just the same, but since shrimp cooks up so quick, I only cooked it for a few minutes after the coconut milk had thickened up. I made patacones and chifles on the side. So good! I was so excited to find your website, to have my childhood favorites written out with tips on how to make them in America. Thanks and Buen Provecho.

  9. Estimada Laylita,
    Vivia en Ecuador 10 anos y mi esposo es de Ecuador(Guayaquil). Ahora vivimos en E.E.U.U. y tanto extranamos los platos tipicos. Mil gracias por su recetas de Seco de Chivo( mi esposo dijo que comiendo el seco hizo el recordar estar en su casa cuando era nino) y encocada.? Como puedo imprimir los sin todas las fotos?(sale como 7 paginas y solo quiero la receta) Tal ves tienes , pero si no ?por que no publica un libro de todos sus recetas? caio Cathy

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