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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. Another amazing recipe from Laylita. I made it for my dad’s birthday and my Ecuadorian mum approved xx thankyou!

  2. Wow, so good. Very much like I enjoyed at a restaurant in Guayaquil when there on business! I made it with cod. I suspect that in Guayaquil it may have been corvina, but so very good. Thanks from a gringo in Florida!

  3. Once again this dish came out incredibly delicious. I used cod loin which is nice and thick and doesn’t fall apart after the 25 min cooking period. Just so tasty. Thanks so much for all your amazing recipes.

  4. Excelente!!!!
    I made this for my husband last night and he loved it, definitely keeping this recipe….. gracias , nos encantó ; )

  5. I am so glad that I have found this site, your food is breathtaking! This dish jumped right at me, the photo is absolutely gorgeous. It appears to be very similar indeed to the famed moqueicas of Bahia (do baiana). And so…? *shrugs* Brazil and Ecuador are neighbors (although not the region of Bahia). I do believe, however, that the two dishes taste pretty different, due to the lack of dendê oil and the use of orange and lime juice in this preparation. Saying this, Espirito Santo has its own version of moqueica (moqueica capixaba), in which they use achiote(!) which, together with lots of tomato (but no coconut milk), lends a very deep, almost blood red color. Here we go, more fusion of Brazil and Ecuador.

  6. Just came from Ecuador. We stayed in Same, Esmeraldas and tried this dish. It was the most delicious meal. I’m very excited to try it!

  7. This dish looks a lot like the Brazilian moqueca, but without the dende oil, which can be hard to find. Does it have any other names or live in other South American countries under another alias? Too good a dish to not be made everywhere!

    1. Hi Paul – Yes, there are likely many variations of this dish, especially in Latin American coastal areas where you find fresh seafood and coconuts. In Ecuador, this dish comes from the province of Esmeraldas and has African influences. From Brazil to the Caribbean there are many countries have similar influences and similar ingredients, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s popular in many Latin American coastal areas.

  8. Hi Laylita,

    I made this tonight with mahi mahi, and it tasted so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I’m always looking for something new and exciting, and your recipes hit the spot. Thank you again :-) I’m looking forward to trying out your other recipes.

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