Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce

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, tomatoes, bell peppers and coconut milk. 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. 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.

En Español

Pescado encocado or fish with coconut sauce
Rate this recipe
9 ratings

Yield: For 4-6 people

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.


  • 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
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tbs sunflower or olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 3 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Side dishes:
  • Ecuadorian style rice
  • Fried ripe plantains


  1. Mix the lime juice, orange juice, crushed garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander powder and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Marinate the fish chunks for 1 - 2 hours.
  3. Heat the oil to prepare a refrito or base for the sauce, add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and salt, cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the fish fillets, cover partially and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice and fried ripe plantains.

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. 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.

Encocado de pescado recipe Fish in coconut sauce

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

pescado-encocado 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

This post was last modified: August 18th, 2016 by Layla Pujol


  1. Lindsey López Gutierrez says:

    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.

  2. Belinda says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. Kaberi Dawn says:

    Easy but delicious. An excellent recipe. Thanks Laylita.

  6. Paul Manthe says:

    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!

    • 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.

  7. increible este plato de pescado de coconut y el enceboolado to die for!!muchas gracias.

  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.

  9. 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!

  10. Tannya Lo Iacono says:

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

  11. 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:
    Again, thanks for such a wonderful blog!


  12. Claudia Fierro says:

    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!!!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Made this for dinner tonight! Yum! Thank you!

  18. Cathy Aviles says:

    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

  19. Sounds absolutely delicious Laylita. I know what I’ll be making for dinner tomorrow evening.

  20. 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!!

  21. 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,


  22. All-Mi-T says:

    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!

  23. 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)

  24. 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!

  25. Mandrake says:

    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.

  26. 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!!

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. Hola

    Saludos desde españa

    Es genial la pagina felicitaciones espero colaborar con ustedes necesito enseñar y prender soy cocinero ecuatoriano que trabaja y vive en España.
    las fotografias y su calidad son espectaculares espero unirme al mundo fantastico de la cocina internacional saludos espero respuestas y propuestas
    con afecto


  30. Xavier y Kara says:

    Hi Laylita,

    While living in Esmeraldas I learned to make encocado. We make it using salmon and we love it. We found your site while looking for a pan de yuca recipe. You are now in our favorites bookmark. It brings good memories and we like the explanations you give for each dish. Great site!

    Xavito y Karita

  31. hi Layla,

    What type of other fish do you recommend for this dish. The Halibut at my Wholefood market was very expensive. It was about $30 for one pound and a quarter. I had to leave it. Any suggestions?

    Maria – Go for any fish that looks fresh, it works well with any type of fish (or seafood) you can try tilapia, cod, monkfish, etc.

  32. OMG this is got my mouth watering!

  33. A quick question – do you think this would work with tilapia, or not so much?

    Hi Sandy – I think it would work well with tilapia, tilapia has a very mild taste and works great in saucy dishes like this one, you’ll probably want to reduce the cooking time since the tilapia filets are usually thinner than halibut filets.

  34. Oh that looks wonderful, great photos & recipe too :)

  35. hulagirlCA says:

    My sister asked me to prepare a fish dish with coconut sauce (and w/out a curry/thai spin) for her and my 2 year old nephew, i found this dish and cannot wait to make it, but i see only one person has reported that they actually prepared it…i will give my report. i also wanted to say i love the way you set up your site, the photos are wonderful and the commentary a pleasure to read. thank you so much!

  36. I love fish and coconut curry combination and yours looks delicious! I’d try it right niw if I had fish in the fridge. Tomorrow.

  37. Although I love fish, no one in my house will eat it without complaint. When I saw this recipe, I immediately decided to try and use it as a secret weapon to bring everyone over to my side of the table! I suspect I can’t fail. Thanks so much for this incredible-looking dish!

  38. This just knocks me out! I love the way you’ve set up the photos. I’ll be making this soon.

  39. Nate – Just what you needed, another excuse to have more halibut! Thanks for the bookmark!

    Marc – Thank you! I was just checking out your site and my mouth is watering!

    Jen – I’m glad you liked it!

  40. I’ve absolutely loved this, I made it and it was devine! Thanks so much Laylita!

  41. Hi Laylita,

    I have been blogging for about a month and was surfing around tonight checking out some new food blogs. I found you off of Cook Eat Fret. All I can say about your blog is WOWWWW!!! I love it. I am major lover of Latin American cuisine and you have just become my favorite destination. Totally blown away. Believe me, I’ll be back.


  42. Oh man that does look good. I just did grilled halibut last night. Wish I had some more halibut to try out this recipe!

    Bookmarked on

  43. Maria-Jose Cepa says:

    Como todas tus recetas, se ve muy rico!!!. Justo hoy compré un halibut bellisimo, asi que lo voy a hacer encocado, haber si me trasporto a esas playitas !!!!

  44. What a yummy-looking dish! Yes, lots and lots of rice, please!

  45. How delicious! Great combination of flavors.

  46. WOW – this looks so yummy and what a great dish for the summer!!
    This will be made!!


  47. Delicious! I love coconut milk and fish, so that dish makes me drool!



  48. Looks delicious… sounds pretty similar to Brazilian Moqueca?

    Thanks, Chris. Yes, a lot of similarities between dishes in South America, coastal dishes from one country are very similar to coastal dishes from others, same thing for dishes from the highlands – but, we hate to admit it and each country (and even each city) likes to think that their dish is the best version and the most original.

Leave a Reply