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Culinary Adventures: Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

Culinary Adventures: Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew). Super easy Caribbean style fish stew from Brazil. Healthy and flavorful–we’re adding this one to our regular recipe rotation for sure!


We were watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown about Salvador de Bahia in Northeastern Brazil, and started drooling over all the food he was eating. We have always wanted to go to Brazil. We were having some friends over for New Years Eve dinner, and I ditched my original fondue plan in favor of a Brazilian feast. I cooked several dishes, but the Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew) was my favorite.

I found my moqueca recipe on Pinterest from a cooking blog called What’s Gaby Cooking. Her photos are way prettier than mine–I was rushing to get dinner ready for 10 people and didn’t have time to take pretty pictures. I guess you get the reality pictures.

Here is her recipe–it’s super easy. The only oddball ingredient is red palm oil. I found it at Whole Foods, which is usually sure to have oddball ingredients. I’d never cooked with it before but I really liked it. It has a sweet smell and unique flavor to it and turns everything a bright golden yellow.

Red palm oil for moqueca
Red palm oil


**I also used pureed ginger in a tube as opposed to mincing fresh ginger, which many grocery stores sell near the fresh herbs in the produce section.

The first thing you have to do is make a marinade for your fish. I used shrimp and mahi mahi like she suggested but I think that cod, halibut, or any other firm fish would work as well. Make sure to use raw shrimp.

Moqueca Fish Marinade:
    • 1 1/2 pounds Mahi Mahi, cut into large chunks (skin removed)
    • 8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deviened
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 inch ginger, minced
    • 1 tablespoon palm oil, melted
    1. Combine the Mahi Mahi, shrimp, lime juice, garlic, ginger and palm oil in a large bowl. Toss everything together to combine and let the fish marinate for 20-30 minutes.
    2. After marinating, drain the fish and shrimp of any excess liquid. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package directions. Set aside once done.
how to make Moqueca --marinating fish
Moqueca –marinating fish
Once the fish is marinaded, the rest of the moqueca is a breeze:
Ingredients for the Stew:
  • 2 tablespoons palm oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cups bell peppers, finely sliced
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup fish stock (vegetable stock works too)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1-2 cups jasmine rice


  1. In a large heavy dutch oven, melt the palm oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, onions and bell peppers and sauté for 4-5 minutes until fragrant and the onions are softened. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and nestle the marinated Mahi Mahi and shrimp in the bottom of the dutch oven. Season the fish with salt and pepper and then add the fish stock and coconut milk to the pan. It should just about cover the fish and shrimp.
  3. Bring the stew to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes until the shrimp is cooked and the fish easily flakes apart. Taste and season with the juice of 1 lime, more if you’d like, and add the cilantro, basil and more salt if desired.
  4. Serve the stew over the jasmine rice.
how to make Moqueca, ready to serve
Moqueca, ready to serve


The moqueca turned out amazing, and was a hit at our dinner party. The flavors of fish, lime, and the herbs really stand out. I have no idea what the moqueca tastes like in Bahia and how close this recipe is, but we plan to find out someday.