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Chicken and Seafood Stew with Coconut Milk and Nuts Recipe

Course: Main Course
Total Time: Under 2 Hours
Skill Level: Moderate
Cost: Splurge
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 Chicken and Seafood Stew with Coconut Milk and Nuts

Photo by: Joseph De Leo

This is one of the more complex recipes included in the book, but if you have the time to devote to it you’ll be more than satisfied with the results: when I cook this for people at the restaurant, they are blown away by the intensity of flavors. Mixing fish and meat is common in Brazilian cuisine, and xinxim (pronounced sheen-sheem) is almost paellalike in its diversity and ingredients. It is also similar to the Brazilian vatapá .

I like to serve this with rice.I garnish the dish with toasted unsweetened shredded coconut, cilantro leaves, and lime.

Yield: SERVES 6


  • 6 boneless chicken breasts, skin-on
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Annatto Oil or pure olive oil

  • ¼ cup pure olive oil
  • 2 ounces smoky bacon, diced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup diced fennel
  • 1 bay leaf, broken in half
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1½ cups fresh orange juice
  • 6 small clams, scrubbed
  • 6 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup toasted and finely ground cashews (see Notes)

  • ¼ cup toasted and ground pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds; see Notes) 

  • ¼ cup dried shrimp, softened in ¼ cup warm water for 10 minutes, drained, and ground or finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
  • 12 sea scallops


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the annatto oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides. Pour off any excess oil. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced. Set aside in a warm place.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then the bacon, and sauté until it is beginning to crisp. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and allow it to melt, then add the garlic and Scotch bonnet and cook for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the onion, bell peppers, celery, fennel, and bay leaf, and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and remove from the heat. Season to taste; set aside.

To make the sauce, pour the orange juice into a large saucepan. Add the clams and mussels, cover, and steam them open over medium-high heat; transfer them to a bowl as they open. When they are all cooked, add the cream, nuts, dried shrimp, and ginger, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato and vegetable mixture, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm over very low heat.

Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and I tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until quite hot. Sear the scallops, turning once, until golden brown on each side, 1½ to 2 minutes on the first side and 45 to 60 seconds on the second side. Remove from the heat.

To serve, ladle the sauce into six bowls. Put a chicken breast and 2 scallops in each bowl, followed by a clam and a mussel. Season with salt and pepper.


Recommended wine: A white Rhône, a Roussanne, or, perhaps, an Alsatian Pinot Gris.Toasting and Grinding Spices, Nuts, and Seeds 

Toasting and Grinding Spices, Nuts, and Seeds When Columbus went looking for Asia and bumped into the Americas, he was on a voyage financed by Spain with the understanding that he would find a better route to the spice markets of India—an illustration of how central spices have always been to cuisine. But spices, like other comestibles, are subject to loss of flavor if not properly prepared. Toasting whole spices, and, usually, grinding them, is the way to get maximum flavor from them. This is extremely easy to do: Gently warm the seeds or other whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat. Once they become aromatic, they are toasted. When they have cooled a bit, grind them in a spice mill (or a clean coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle. Toasting and grinding awakens the oils and aromatics within them. With spices like pepper and cumin, for example, which are staples of my cooking, you can prepare a batch of the toasted ground spice and keep it around for up to 2 weeks.

The same principles apply to toasting nuts: the heat maximizes their flavor. Grinding makes them the proper consistency for cooking in soups and stews.

© 2003 Norman Van Aken

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information does not include Annatto Oil. For nutritional information on Annatto Oil, please follow the link above.

Nutritional information includes 1/4 teaspoon of added salt.

1015kcal (51%)
129mg (13%)
96mg (159%)
402mcg RAE (13%)
284mg (95%)
738mg (31%)
25g (127%)
68g (105%)
6mg (33%)

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