Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tucunaré (peacock bass)

I can't think of a better option for lunch on Sunday than eating regional fish at the Tapaiú Restaurant, which is owned by an old friend, João do Mato. This is a real simple place, not much more than a maloca (indigenous roundhouse) fairly close to the CR Supermarket here in Santarém. We remember the place years ago when it wasn't a restaurant at all; it was João's house, where he and his family lived. But having fame as a fisherman and cook, friends would show up there on the weekends to eat tucunaré frito na manteiga (peacock bass fried in butter) under the thatched roof of an umbrella-sized shelter in his front yard. Three years ago Joao invested in a larger maloca with all the trimmings of a real restaurant, like a bathroom, a kitchen and a bar well stocked with cold beer and soft drinks. I miss the old environment but the quality of the food sure hasn't changed. Maybe it's even better now because he cooks fish some variations beyond just fried tucunaré bass. In the attached image you can see a fish that three of us gobbled up this past Sunday. That's Áurea, my wife, holding the a tray of fried fish covered with shrimp sauce and shoestring fried potatoes. Nobody goes away hungry! As a matter of fact, we normally take the leftovers home for dinner and the head of the fish for our dog, Lucca. Tucunaré (Cichla temensis) is found in the nearby waters of the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers and it's by far the most sought after fish by the national and international sportsmen.

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