I have become a bigger fan of fish than ever before in recent weeks. I don’t know what it is, but fish is really satisfying every craving I have.
Whether it’s salmon or cod, halibut or tilapia, I am trying to cook it up a few nights a week for myself. I wish I could say that I am cooking it for my husband, but he is NOT a seafood fan.
At least I get to enjoy hoarding it all to myself?
Anyway, after cooking fish for a few weeks in a row, you start to run out of ideas. So I started to look outside the typical recipes that I was familiar with to those of other cultures.
Normally I fall into a Euro-centric cooking groove, making French, Italian, and German dishes regularly. But lately I have been exploring flavors outside of that like Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and most recently, Brazilian.
Do you know what espetinho means? It translates to “skewer” from Portuguese, and that’s exactly what these bad boys are.
Espetinhos are generic skewers that you are likely to find being sold on the streets, in town squares, and on the beaches of Brazil. Usually they are comprised of fairly basic ingredients – cubes of spiced protein, skewered and grilled over charcoal, sometimes with vegetables.
Now, I have never been to Brazil myself, but I have dreams of going. And to me, nothing provides a better taste of a culture than exploring their street food options.
Wherever you find delicious street food, you will also find crowds of locals devouring it. Every country and city is different, but they all have the commonality of bringing people together around simple, great tasting food.
From what I have read, espetinhos are simple skewers made up mostly of one ingredient when you find them among the offerings from local street vendors.
Instead of just making them with meat, a more gourmet version of these skewers can include vegetables or even fruit on a skewer. A delicious marinade imparts extra flavor to the meat or seafood.
This recipe is for fish marinated in a citrus and herb mixture that has tons of flavor. Halibut is a fantastic seafood option to use for this recipe, but you could use other varieties if you prefer, such as sea bass, dogfish, hake, or tilapia. Whatever type you use, the marinade will pair with it so well.
Be sure to marinate the fish for at least 30 minutes before you thread the skewers and start grilling. The longer you marinate the halibut for, the more flavor the finished seafood will have.
The citrus notes from the orange and lime juices really sing when paired with fresh cilantro and parsley. There’s also a slightly spicy added zing in there from the garlic and ginger that puts it over the top.
It doesn’t matter if you are grilling for a weeknight dinner or planning to serve a crowd with your skewers of deliciousness, this recipe will get everyone ready to hop on a flight to Brazil immediately. Perhaps it will even serve as travel inspiration for your next big trip – it certainly has for me!Print
Espetinho de peixe, or classic fish kebabs, will transport you directly to Brazil. The traditional street food is full of citrus and herb flavor.
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, gluten-free tamari, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from about 1 orange)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (about 1 inch)
- 3 pounds skinless halibut, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 24 button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed with stems removed (about 1 pound)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and ginger. Mix well to combine.
- Add the halibut, stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- If using bamboo skewers instead of metal, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
- When ready to grill, preheat grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grates.
- Thread 4 to 5 pieces of fish on each skewer, alternating with bell peppers and mushrooms. Reserve any leftover marinade.
- Grill 4-5 minutes on each side.
- While the fish is grilling, place the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced by about half, then brush the kebabs with the reduction a minute or so before they’re done on all sides. Serve immediately.
- Category: Fish
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: fish, kebab, halibut, Brazilian, grilling, Espetinho de Peixe
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Juice one orange so you have 1/4 cup fresh orange juice. Discard any seeds. Save any remaining juice for a recipe like our strawberry mint orange juice!
Juice two limes so you have 1/4 cup fresh lime juice.
Chop enough parsley and cilantro leaves until you have one teaspoon total of each herb.
Peel two cloves of garlic and mince, with a knife or your garlic press.
Peel a one-inch piece of ginger and grate it. You should have one teaspoon total of grated ginger.
Cut the halibut into one-inch cubes. Note that you can also use sea bass, dogfish, hake, or tilapia if you prefer.
Remove the stems and seeds, and cut the bell peppers into one-inch pieces.
Clean, trim, and remove the stems from the mushrooms.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Marinate Fish
Add the soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and ginger to a large bowl to make the marinade. Mix well to combine.
Add the halibut cubes to the bowl, stir to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
If you are using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes before you start grilling, to prevent scorching. Metal skewers can also be used.
Step 3 – Assemble Skewers
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate with canola oil.
Be sure to reserve the remaining marinade in the bowl.
Step 4 – Grill Skewers and Make Sauce
Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. The fish should be cooked through, flaky, and no longer opaque.
While the skewers are cooking, add the remaining marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until mixture has reduced by half.
Brush the kebabs with the reduced sauce one minute before the skewers are done cooking. Serve immediately.
How Many Skewers Does This Recipe Make?
I know it can be important to know exactly how many skewers a recipe makes, especially when you are serving the dish as an appetizer for a large party along with other dishes.
This recipe makes about 14 to 16 skewers total, depending on the size of your skewers and how many pieces of fish you put on each one. Plenty for a party!
Looking for even more skewer recipes to try out? Check out these tasty options from Foodal next:
What occasion will you serve these skewers for? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to give the recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 14, 2012. Last updated on April 10, 2021.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.