MOQUECA a Brazilian Seafood Stew

Brazilian Seafood StewThe first time I tried moqueca in Brazil, and I think the only time that I have eaten it at a restaurant here, was quite a long time ago at the beach with my husband. He had hyped-up this dish like crazy and told me how much I was going to love it. Unfortunately when our moqueca arrived we were both disappointed and I did not fall in love with it. The restaurant was a tourist trap and I did not get to experience this absolutely delicious dish. Instead, I learned to love this dish when my husband made it for me back in the USA. I couldn’t get enough of it and wanted to eat it almost all the time. While living in Boston we found a wonderful moqueca restaurant (Muqueca Restaurant, Cambridge MA) and ate there several times. It was so delicious that we kept wanting to go back for more.

Brazilian Seafood StewSo, Brazil hasn’t yet showed me the best of their moqueca but believe me this is an amazing dish and if you get the chance to try it while in Brazil definitely jump on the opportunity. If you are a fish lover like me you will not be disappointed.

Moqueca is a dish traditionally from the northern states of Espirito Santo and Bahia. It is a seafood ragout or stew made with any combination of fish and shell fish.There are countless recipes for moqueca and everyone has their own favorite recipe. Moqueca is a dish that was influenced by the Brazilian native indian, African, and Portuguese cuisines. The name comes from the native indian word POKEKAS. Traditionally, moqueca is slow cooked in a clay pot known as the ‘capixaba‘. Moqueca that is cooked in the clay pot is called ‘moqueca capixaba‘. The capixaba is a handmade pot made from black clay and mangrove tree sap and adds a beautiful flavor to the moqueca.

Brazilian Seafood StewAgain, moqueca is one of those Brazilian dishes that can be made hundreds of different ways and as long as you have the basic ingredients you cannot go wrong!

Some asides about this recipe and what to eat moqueca with:

  • Moqueca is traditionally made with cilantro, but since there are some people who absolutely hate the taste of cilantro (my husband) you do not need to use it. I always substitute cilantro with parsley and it works perfectly.
  • This dish can be made with ANY type of fish. I generally use a simple white fish like tilapia and shrimp. But feel free to use any fish you have at home or would like to use instead!
  • Make sure that the coconut is not too strong. You want to have an equal blend of tomato and coconut.
  • Once the fish has been added DO NOT STIR.
  • I eat moqueca with rice and farofa. I make a very simple farofa usually just with onions, but again, any farofa recipe works perfectly.
  • Most importantly: have fun with this recipe!

Brazilian Seafood StewIngredients

1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5tbsp tempero caseiro (substitute for onions & garlic)
olive oil
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
16oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
8oz can coconut milk
400g/880oz shrimp
500g/1lb tilapia, or other mild white fish
1 cup parsley or cilantro
1-2 tbsp chili flakes

Prepare all of the vegetables: chop the peppers, onions, garlic, and parsley or cilantro (if using tempero caseiro measure required quantity). Place a the capixaba, clay pot, or cast iron pan over medium heat and warm-up the olive oil. When oil is warm add the onions and garlic (or tempero caseiro). Sauté until fragrant, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the pepper and sauté for another 6-8 minutes or until slightly tender. Add the crushed or diced tomatoes and leave to simmer with the lid off for approximately 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stir well, and bring to a boil. Add the salt, chili flakes, and half of the parsley or cilantro to taste (you do not want the dish to be too spicy). Lower heat and keep mixture at a low boil. Prepare the shrimp and tilapia; take off the shrimp tails and cut tilapia into medium sized chunks. After mixture has boiled for approximately 10 minutes add the fish. Once the fish has been added do not stir the mixture anymore. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add the remaining parsley or cilantro. Serve with rice and farofa!

For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!Brazilian Seafood Stew


13 thoughts on “MOQUECA a Brazilian Seafood Stew

  1. “So, Brazil hasn’t yet showed me the best of their moqueca”. I definitely understand you! Though I’m not Capixaba, I’ve been living in Espírito Santo since I was born. In fact, Moqueca is a traditional and SUPER popular dish, but just like you, I haven’t gotten much out of it, except when MY DAD makes it. He learned how to make it with a native Indian, and he surely got the hang of it – really! I can feel a HUGE difference of taste when he’s the one who makes it. It’s tastier than those that we buy at the restaurants. I feels better and, again, just like you said, I “can’t get enough of it”, and want to “eat it almost all the time”.

    I’ve never eaten the one made with shrimp, cause he’s allergic to it. But we usually it the one made with fish along with rice and another stew called “Pirão”.

    Anyway, it’s really worth it when it’s made in the right way. 🙂


  2. You inspired me to make moqueca capixaba (without the coconut milk) in an old clay pot for the weekend. I´ve already got cape shark cutlet and shrimp. Garlic rice and pirão instead of (farinha de mandioca) as a side dish. And passion fruit mousse dessert as you recommended previously. You make my weekly menu easy. Thank you for your ever inspiring posts!


  3. My husband is from Bahia, and there, dende is used instead of olive oil. His family usually has a jar of a spicy pepper sauce (more like Tobasco than siracha – I don’t the name!) that they serve at the tablen so everyone can choose their spice level.

    When we make it, we usually use leftover marinara sauce from pasta night instead of a can of tomatoes.


    • Dende is the oil that is traditionally used for moqueca. I use olive oil just to make it a little simpler since I always have that at home!!!!!!


  4. Hey Saskia! Nice to hear you’re living in Brazil now. checked out your blog and i’m making this tomorrow night, sounds yummy 🙂 I feel like you’ve made this one time while we were living together, sounds familiar!


  5. I just found your blog tonight! and it’s great! Thanks for the great recipes!!!
    The best moqueca I ever tried was when I lived in Bahia! I’m from Manaus, Brazil, but living in the USA for 14 years. In Bahia they use dende (palm oil) and it makes this dish sooooooo yummy!


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