Moqueca – Brazilian Fish Stew

Brazilian moqueca, a fish stew made with firm white fish, onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and coconut milk.

Traditional moqueca uses palm oil. If you can find it (I checked three stores here and was not able to locate any) add just a tablespoon to the stew along with the coconut milk.

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

Soup

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of fillets of firm white fish such as halibut, swordfish, or cod, rinsed in cold water, pin bones removed, cut into large portions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped spring onion, or 1 medium yellow onion, chopped or sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onion greens, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, chopped (or sliced)
  • 2 cups chopped (or sliced) tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (Hungarian sweet)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped with some set aside for garnish
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk

Rice

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 3/4 cups boiling water (check your rice package for the appropriate ratio of liquid to rice for the type of rice you are using)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

1 Place fish pieces in a bowl, add the minced garlic and lime juice so that the pieces are well coated. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Keep chilled while preparing the rest of the soup.

2 If you are planning on serving the soup with rice, start on the rice. Bring a couple cups of water to a boil. Heat one Tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the chopped 1/2 onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the raw white rice and stir to coat completely with the oil, onions, and garlic. Add the boiling water. (The amount depends on your brand of rice, check the package. If no amounts are given, add 1 3/4 cup of water for every cup of rice.) Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes, after which, remove from heat until ready to serve with the soup.

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3 Back to the soup. In a large covered pan (such as a Dutch oven), coat the bottom with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. (At least a teaspoon of salt.) Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and onion greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

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3 Use a large spoon to remove about half of the vegetables (you'll put them right back in). Spread the remaining vegetables over the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the fish. Arrange the fish pieces on the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then add back the previously removed vegetables, covering the fish. Pour coconut milk over the fish and vegetables.

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4 Bring soup to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may need to add more salt (likely), lime or lemon juice, paprika, pepper, or chili flakes to get the soup to the desired seasoning for your taste.

Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice or with crusty bread.

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Comments

  1. Rossella

    Hello Elise!
    I know you will tell me the coconut milk is the key ingredient that makes the Moqueca a true Moqueca but…do you think regular milk will completely spoil the result? I do have a problem with coconut… thx!

    I would not use regular milk. I would skip it all together if you don’t like coconut milk. Or look for another version of moqueca that doesn’t require it. ~Elise

  2. Deena

    Mmmm, that sounds and looks super. I love coconut milk. One ingredient puzzles me–green onion greens? Please help. Thanks!

    Green onions are the long skinny onions, also known as scallions. The greens are the green parts of these onions. ~Elise

  3. Frederico Baeta Guimarães

    Very simple recipe. And a very good one. The original has some minor differences, but this is easier to be made in any country. Some suggestions: Chop onions and other vegetables in tiny stripes; better do not use paprika: use a mix of cummin and black pepper (50%/50%) instead.
    The original fish for moqueca is Carassius auratus, but cod is – maybe – better :-)

    Congratulations.

    Thanks for the advice! ~Elise

  4. Tami

    Yummy! Is this the same recipe as your Salmon Fish Stew?? have made that one many times and love love love that one!

    Slightly different. I left out the cumin (you could add it back in), and I changed the order of how to cook the ingredients. Salmon holds up better to longer cooking than cod, so I cook the vegetables first in this recipe and then just cook the fish with them for a short time. ~Elise

  5. Jessica

    Hmmm I happened to be looking for a recipe for a fillet of grouper that’s in my fridge – and I have all of the other ingredients already! Would this work with grouper?

    Should work, though I’m not completely sure as I haven’t worked with grouper. ~Elise

  6. Karen

    You can find palm oil (or dende) at Whole Foods.

    Thanks Karen. I looked for it at our local Whole Foods and couldn’t find it. One of the workers there assured me that they did not carry it, but perhaps he didn’t know where to look? Or perhaps the WF in Sacramento just doesn’t have it. ~Elise

  7. Paz

    Oh, yum! I can’t wait to try this. I’ve made your salmon fish stew and your Dad’s fish stew recipes several times and love them both recipes. I know moqueca will be a winner, too, for me.

    I suppose one can find the palm oil at ethnic food stores. For example, I get mine from the store that sells African food products. Although olive oil is healthier, there is a difference with the taste when palm oil is used. ;-)

    Thanks for this recipe.

    Paz

    Hi Paz, yes palm oil is full of saturated fat, making it not the healthiest of vegetable oils, which is why the recommendations I see are to use just a small amount for flavor. ~Elise

  8. Lisa

    Elise – you can get Palm Oil at the Co-op on Alhambra. They have jars of it in the baking goods aisle.

    This recipe looks delicious – I don’t normally like fish stew, but adding coconut milk could make it wonderful.

    Thanks Lisa! I wouldn’t have guessed the co-op. Good to know. ~Elise

  9. caroline

    This sounds lovely; unfortunately, coconut milk is far too rich and always makes me feel sick. Could I simply replace the coconut milk with stock, or should I seek out a recipe from one of the regions that does not use it?

    Most of the discussion I found about the stew made a point to say that no additional liquid was used (unless you are adding coconut milk), the stew releases water as it slowly cooks. That said, I think you might need to load up on more tomatoes, or add a little clam juice if you leave out the coconut milk. ~Elise

  10. Diogo

    Hey, I’m Brazilian and I have a recipe blog (in Portuguese) where I translate some recipes from here and there are others too. Moqueca is a very Brazilian recipe, famous in northeast. There are many kind of Brazilian recipes and, many of them are very very simple, I can give you some tips. :) Nice too see a Brazilian dish here. it’s not “olé Brasil” but “olá Brasil”. And by the way, this Sunday I made the “Creamy Shrimp and Broccoli Fettuccine”, check the pic: http://bit.ly/bL1YdO bye.

    Hi Diogo, I was thinking about the football chant, olé olé, olé. I attended the world cup match between Brasil and the US in California years ago and ended up partying in the street, night after night as Brasil kept winning games. Each night thousands would take the street chanting this song. So much fun! Brazilians have such spirit! Thanks for stopping by the site. ~Elise

  11. Chez Us - Denise

    Elise, this looks and sounds amazing. I am very familiar with the Portuguese version (Bacalhau) as Lenny is from the Azores and we are treated to this wonderful dish whenever we go back to Boston to visit. I have made a version a couple times. As well there is the Basque version (Bacalao a la Viscaina) which is slightly different but equally as good (my family is Basque). One of the things I love about your recipe is that there is the addition of coconut milk, lime juice and cilantro – three of my favorite things! Definitely going to be trying out this recipe!

    Denise

  12. Heguiberto Souza

    Hi Elise,
    I would say that moqueca and feijoada are the two Brazilian national dishes. I just returned from a 3 week vacation down there and had moqueca for at least a 1/2 a dozen times made in many different ways!
    Really yummy!
    In the northern state of Bahia they also add Dendê oil which is a type of palm oil as well as Colorau a fragrant pigment extracted from the fruit of a tree (Urucum). It gives the dish that vibrant red color you can get with paprika. I bet there was no leftovers!
    Cheers,
    heguiberto
    WeirdCombinations

  13. mirtha

    This is similar to a recipe called pescado con coco (fish with coconut) from Dominican Republic, very popular during Lent.

  14. SaraQ

    Would tilapia work as well?

    I don’t think so. The last time I tried to make a fish stew with tilapia it didn’t hold together. But I’m happy to be proven wrong on this one, so if it works for you, great! ~Elise

  15. Hannah

    For the question about not using coconut milk, I’ve made moqueca before and subbed chicken broth instead for a lower calorie version, and it’s just as flavorful (tho not an authentic moqueca). Also, it’s delish to throw some calamari (that you’ve marinated like the fish) in the soup at the last minute too.

  16. mantha

    This does look delicious. I like any kind of fish stew.

    I wonder — for the people who have trouble with coconut — there are other nut milks in the world. Rather than just add more stock, why not take almond milk? It’s not exactly the same flavor, but the mild sweetness is there, and it’s creamy in texture but not as rich. It would resemble the original a little more.

    Here’s a simple little recipe posted on line by Dr. Ben Kim:

    Ingredients:

    1 to 1 ½ cups of raw almonds
    4 cups of filtered or spring water
    3-8 dates (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Soak almonds in water for at least six hours.

    2. Drain soaked almonds, and blend in a blender with 4 cups of fresh water until you get a milk-like consistency. Blend with dates (that have been soaked for at least an hour) if you like a hint of sweetness to your milk.

    3. Strain once to remove almond granules.

  17. Reena Kapoor

    Many of the Indian fish stews (from coastal regions of India esp. Kerala) use a good helping of coconut milk. Some excellent recipes are available from Maya Kaimal…

  18. susan

    I made the soup this evening. It was absolutely amazing. In every way. And I did not fool with any of it (the way I usually do with recipes). Cod was the only fish available. Well, halibut was available, but here it is about 10 thousand dollars a pound! The soup does take a generous amount of salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. We already plan to make this for our friends. I encourage everyone to try it.

    My first time commenting. You have an excellent blog/site. Keep up the great work. By the way, I got turned onto your site by David Lebovitz.

    So glad you liked it! Besos to David who walks on water. And swims in ice cream. ~Elise

  19. Elisa

    I must commend you on the rice, that is truly the Brazilian way of making it. My moqueca recipe calls for 4-5 whole garlic cloves (peels on) layered along with the vegetables. And if you have a clay pot, by all means use that to make your moqueca.

  20. Mel G.

    This stew looks so good! It’s going on my to-make list for sure.

    A thought about the alternatives to coconut milk and the issue of not wanting to add liquid – maybe reduce them (almond milk, etc.) down?

  21. Chandra

    Elise, do you know how to make coconut milk from fresh coconuts (green or brown)? I live in Mexico and these are widely available and cheaper than the canned stuff, which is also too sweet for some reason.

    Otherwise, we loved this! I am a big fan of cilantro and it was fun to throw it in like spinach :)

    Hi Chandra, great question. I found an online tutorial that might help you. ~Elise

  22. Elizabeth Robertson

    Hi there Elise, for those who do not want the fat of the coconut milk, try using light evaporated milk with a little coconut essence added. Here in Australia, you can buy light coconut flavored evaporated milk.
    Thanks for the great recipes.

  23. fatimah

    In Iran we have a version of fish stew too.
    1 onion
    4 garlic cloves
    corriander 1 kilo
    fenugreek 200 grams
    tamarind 200 grams
    butter 100 grams
    oil 5 grams
    fish

    Fry the onions and garlic in the oil, add some turmeric, salt and petter. Then, chop up the fenugreek reallyy small, add that, then the corriander should be chopped up small, then add that too. Then add enough water to cover it, a little bit higher. Soak the tamarind in some water, and pass it through a sieve to get out the seeds.
    Next you cut up the boneless fish into small squares, dip it in some flour, and fry it in the butter. Add it to the stew, and let it cook.
    Or you could just add tuna fish.

    How intriguing, thanks for sharing! ~Elise

  24. Liza (Jersey Cook)

    Wow, this looks delicious! Elise, do you think canned tomatoes would work here or do you recommend fresh?

    Yes, I think canned would work. If I were to use canned, I would use one 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes. ~Elise

  25. monica

    Hi Elise,

    Are spring onions and green onions the same thing? I always thought those were two alternative names for scallions? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this for dinner tonight.

    Spring onions look like really fat scallions, or really young regular onions. ~Elise

  26. Marisa

    Hi Elise,
    I’m originally from Brazil but I live in the US. I have found palm oil in a small latino store here in DC. My local Whole Foods does not carry it.
    My favourite recipe is almost identical to yours, minus the paprika.
    I also make crab moqueca and it’s delicious. The procedure is pretty much the same. You just use crab instead of fresh fish.
    If you are able to find manioc flour in your area, you have to try moqueca with farofa (a side dish made with manioc flour that goes amazingly well with moqueca).
    Thanks for your wonderful blog! :-)

  27. Meg

    I just made this and it is SOOOO delicious! It was very simple and it didn’t take long. The flavors are exquisite. I used hot paprika because I didn’t have the sweet. It was delicious and gave a nice kick to it. Thanks for the recipe!

  28. Kinsey

    Any chance you could sub lobster or crab for the fish–it looks very intriguing, but I am not a big fan of fish…

    Yes, a previous commenter mentioned that she makes it with crab. I bet it would be good with lobster too. ~Elise

  29. Cassie

    Making this tonight with the addition of fish sauce and coconut oil. So excited to eat it!

    By the way, there’s really no reason to fear and avoid (non-hydrogenated) tropical oils. They play an important (and delicious) role in a lot of traditional diets and have a lot of health benefits (see here for coconut oil and here and here for palm oil.) The chapter “Real Fats” in Nina Planck’s Real Food has much more.

  30. Luiz Panchihak

    Hi all. This is truly a delicious dish, and so versatile, as you can change ingredients based on what you like in terms of seafood.
    In my opinion, moqueca without dende oil is not moqueca. It can be purchased online in many places. http://www.dendeoil.com
    I am surprised that no mention was made about the version using soft shell crab (moqueca de siri mole). Dust the crabs with seasoned flour, sear them quick for firming and coloring. Then follow your favorite recipe. Enjoy!

  31. Medium and Big Guys

    It takes an impressive recipe for me to actually follow it … we followed every step (did add shrimp – tastes great).

    One of the best things we’ve made all year. The house smells terrific and it holds up well with all the cilantro.

    The rice didn’t turn out but who cares?

    Bravo, Elisa. You’ve made a few fans.

    Excellent! So glad to hear it. ~Elise

  32. Jenny

    I made this tonight and it was quite tasty. I mixed the rice in. I didn’t have any lime juice so I used lemon so I’m sure that altered it a bit.

  33. Warrick Lacey

    Wow!!! Elise, another big big hit. I made this last night the dish came out magnificent – in spite of my overcooking the fish.

    Incredible. Simple, fresh, easy to make on a weeknight. Now my kids are going to think Daddy actually knows how to cook – the dirty secret is I just watch your recipes.

    Excellent dish.
    Thanks

  34. Jessica

    I made this with grouper the other night, followed everything else except that I cheated and used canned diced tomatoes (fresh ones are so expensive up North at this time of year!). It was excellent!

  35. Catherine

    I’m finally teaching myself to cook fish and this sounds amazing! Elise – can you give a quick comment on the kinds of white fish that might (and might not!) work? I never know what I might find fresh…

  36. Chris Thorne

    Elise,

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was even better than I imagined. This is going on the the repertoire.

    Thanks again for another great posting.

    Chris

  37. Caleb

    I got a chance to make this Brazilian Fish Stew a couple of nights ago. It was a huge hit! We loved it and a few of our friends got a chance to eat it and love it.
    The creamy richness of the coconut milk is a much appreciated surprise. The peppers and onions really contribute to a hearty fulfilling meal. I used Cod but next time may try lobster or some other fish.
    I ended up using Jasmin rice and mixed it into the stew/soup, I added an extra cup of tomatoes and used about half the salt.
    We will definitely be adding this to our favorite recipes to make again soon!

    Thank you Elise!

    ~ Caleb

  38. CandleGirl

    Hi- I’m in New York, so for all the New Yorker’s looking to make this recipe with palm oil, you can find it in any african markets or large supermarkets with heavy ethnic sections. I guess that applies to other cities and states too- hope it helps.

  39. TaylorToronto

    This looks delicious. Just wondering…is the one can of coconut milk all the liquid that this recipe requires? No added water? It doesn’t seem like that would make enough soup to serve 4 people?

    Yes, it is sufficient. The vegetables and the fish release enough liquid with the low simmer cooking. ~Elise

  40. Rafael

    Elise,
    I am brazilian and your recipe is quite good, really. I have though one warning and one suggestion. The warning: if you’re using palm oil, you should not cook it (just add some at the end of the recipe) otherwise it will be too strong. The suggestion: you can do exactly the same thing with scallops!
    thanks
    Rafael

  41. Frank

    This recipe was so easy to prepare and tasted great. I finally got to use the can of coconut milk I had in the cupboard. Thanks for a quick workweek meal!

  42. Yorik

    Cool, that recipe was indeed missing in this fantastic blog! Just to add a couple of local details:
    Many moquecas in Brazil, specially outside Bahia, don’t have coconut milk in it (you can simply ommit it).
    Another very important thing is actually the palm oil. I know it’s hard to find in the US but if you can, use it, it makes a very big difference. In Bahia, they use a LOT of palm oil in the moqueca, around 200ml (small bottle) for a moqueca like described here.
    A very common way to do it in Brazil (maybe more than in the pan like here) is to cook it in the oven. You do it just the same, but place everything in an oven recipient, and cook in the oven for around 50 minutes. The palm oil will form a kind of delicious fine brown crust on the top…

  43. Carla Duclos

    Hi Elise,

    I am Brazilian and I am currently living in The Netherlands.

    It was really nice to see a Brazilian dish, so popular in Brazil, here.

    Your recipe is exactly the Moqueca Baiana (from Bahia state), besides the fact that the original one goes always with palm oil. But no worries about it. I learnt to do this dish with a friend from Bahia and she told me that sometimes when she prepares this dish for Dutch people that are not very used with the palm oil (that is a strong oil), she prepares at the first time just with olive oil and gradually starts to introduce the palm oil.

    I am lucky that here I can easily fine the palm oil. It is not from BR, but it’s good enough for the dish.

    There is also another kind of Moqueca in Brazil, the Moqueca Capixaba, from Espírito Santo state. This version is made without coconut milk. I’ve tried this one when I traveled to Espirito Santo. I prefer the Bahian version, but the Capixaba one is also very good and maybe you would like to try.

    If you want I can search for a recipe and translate to English if it’s just available in Portuguese.

    And, the original recipe goes with coriander, but for those who doesn’t like it, It is possible to replace by parsley (I do that :)).

    Thanks for spread part of the Brazilian culture. :)

  44. girl from Mars

    I had this dish in Brazil many times, at the beach in a tiny village in the northeast. It was so delicious. Every time it was served with a hard-boiled egg!

    My favorite was Moqueca de arraia (stingray)! When it is fresh caught, it is amazing.

    I want to try to make this dish, but I know it can never be quite the same. Sigh.

  45. Therese

    Made this a couple of nights ago and it was a real hit. I’m a huge fan of paprika and the combination with coconut milk is delicious. Used cod (as halibut is not yet in season) and I added another clove of garlic for the marinade. Out of convenience, I marinaded in a ziplock bag for 4 hours and omitted the red garlic flakes so it wasn’t too spicy for my 6 year old. Thanks for the recipe. It is definitely a keeper.

  46. Sue L.

    Made this last night — used cod & pretty much stuck to the recipe and it was WONDERFUL! Looking forward to the leftovers today. I’ll definitely be making it again soon.

    Yay! So glad you liked it. :-) ~Elise

  47. Lynn D.

    I came across a reference to moqueca about 2 weeks ago, before your post. I have made it twice since then and think it’s absolutely spot on and so easy too. I used light coconut milk and thought it worked just fine.

  48. EdToronto

    Halfway through the prep for this recipe I asked myself, “what are you doing? You don’t even like bell peppers or cilantro”.
    Luckily I kept going and followed the recipe as written. The result was out of this world!
    My wife couldn’t stop raving about it.
    Thank you!
    My only question…is the lime juice that the fish soaks in meant to be poured in to the soup or is it just a marinade that gets discarded?

    So glad you liked it! As for the lime juice marinade, pour it into the soup with the fish. ~Elise

  49. Elise Lafosse

    I made this dish last Sunday and it was delicious. My husband LOVED it. Also it was not too difficult to make, just alot of chopping in the begining. Highly recommend this dish. Thank you. Elise Lafosse

  50. Anne in Olympia, Wa

    I just finished eating this. I made it for my fiance and we both LOVED it! I used fresh halibut fillet which was expensive ($17 for two people!) but well worth it. Used lime, not lemon. I cut the recipe in half and used one pound of fish. I also used light coconut milk and it was great but will use the real deal next time and not worry about the calories. The rice is excellent. I just put the copy of the recipe in my ‘definitely will make again’ folder! I did add some cumin as one reader suggested because we like that flavor. Somehow, the salt just seems to disappear and you do need to add lots of it, like Elise said. I wonder why that is. Don’t skip the cilantro! My friend made it tonight as well on my suggestion but used fillet of sole which all fell apart, as I would have suspected from earlier comments.

    Anyway, this is true heaven in a bowl!!! Man, don’t pass this immensely flavorful dish up.

    So glad you tried it and liked it with the halibut! ~Elise

  51. Jen

    I used coconut oil, which worked well in place of the palm oil, and loved the way this stew turned out. I tried halibut cheeks (no bones), and like how the lime juice cooks the fish in the fridge, just like ceviche. Friends and family loved it!

  52. Arianne

    I made this but added some crab meat to it, it was amazing! My kids ate the leftovers for dinner the following evening!

  53. Dania @ The Cookery

    Elise,
    Made the salmon stew several times and it was always a success!
    Do you think this would work with a combo of fish and shrimp or should I choose between the two rather than mix?
    Thanks!

    It would be terrific with a combo of shrimp and fish. Go for it! ~Elise

  54. jennifer

    I just made this and it was fantastic! I used brown rice instead and it made it just a little more hearty! Great dish!

  55. Pat

    This was incredible. We served over brown rice to make it a bit heartier and left red pepper flakes on the side to make it kid friendly.

  56. Brandi

    Made this dish last weekend and it was GREAT!!! Thanks so much! The only change I made at all, in an effort to count calories, was to use the “light coconut milk” instead of the regular. Still tasted great but if I ever want to splurge I’ll use the regular! Thanks again!

  57. Joanna

    Elise and family,
    Just discovered your blog this week. My new lunchtime companion at work! Thanks so much. Made this stew last night. Working on leftovers now. I used low fat coconut milk which worked well. My girls (7 and 11) loved the creamy flavor which helped pass along the fish. I had lemon juice on hand but I’m sure the lime would enhance it better. I’ll be making it again and have shared it with coworkers. Thumbs up!

  58. Salma

    This recipe was so simple and delicious- I added cumin to the veggies- I used 1/2lb of halibut and 1/4 lb shrimp, and used 1/4 C light coconut milk with chicken broth (I had about 1.5 C in the fridge that needed to be used). It was delicious, light but so filling. Thanks Elise- I love your recipes.

  59. Holly

    Quick question as I’d like to try this today.
    I learned that when using tomatoes in a recipe, you scoop out the middle seeds and liquid and only use the outside shell portion. Is that what you do for this recipe? Or do you include the middle liquids and seeds? Thanks!

    Actually, there is a lot of flavor in the seeds and liquid. Sometimes people get rid of it because they are looking for a very smooth sauce, but in this recipe you don’t need to do that. ~Elise

  60. Culinspiration

    This is excellent! I made it with shrimp and cod, following your directions fairly closely, and it turned out really well.

    My changes:

    -subbed fresh chiles for the red pepper flake;
    -used juice of two limes and tossed in the garlic/lime marinade into the stew with the fish;
    -added half the garlic to the fish marinade and cooked the remainder with the onions and bell peppers until golden; and
    -added cumin, on recommendation of one of the Brazilian commenters.

    THANK YOU for a delicious meal. This will definitely be on the list to repeat. Cheers!

  61. Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    Elise, this looks amazing. I love the combination of coconut milk and lime, so I can’t wait to give this recipe a try! Question: do you use Kosher or table salt? I find the latter to be much stronger in flavor, and typically only use half the amount I would otherwise use for Kosher salt. Just curious. Thanks for the great recipe idea!

    We use either kosher or sea salt in cooking. Table salt is a much smaller grain and therefore there’s more of it than the other salts when you compare volumes. I would just salt to taste. ~Elise

  62. Austin Smith

    I tried the recipe substituting some de-boned, skinless chicken thighs cut up into bite-size pieces. I’m betting this might be considered sacrilegious or worse in Brazil, but it actually came out really good. I think chicken breast pieces would also work well. I’ll try fish the next time. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  63. Simone

    I used haddock and it worked very well in this stew. Since fresh tomatoes aren’t that flavorful yet this time of the year on the East Coast, I used two tomatoes and a small can of diced tomatoes. Thanks for a wonderful, quick and easy recipe!

  64. Jan

    Made this tonight, and it was absolutely delicious and surpassed all of our expectations. In a word: YUM!!!
    Thank you for this recipe. jc

  65. Emily

    Thank you for this recipe. I made it last night and it was incredible! I will be making this one again – the broth was especially superb.

  66. Gabriella

    Hi there!
    I had this dish at a recent dinner party and it was DIVINE!! I’d like to make it now at my own house, but one person here HATES cilantro. Any thoughts on using Thai Basil instead of the cilantro??
    I’m hoping this will work well. Seems like it would, considering the dish really reminded me of panang curry, anyway!
    Has anyone used basil in this??
    Thanks!

    My heart goes out to anyone who doesn’t like cilantro. Apparently it’s a chemical thing, for some people it just tastes like soap. Great idea on the thai basil. I think it would be an excellent substitute, but haven’t tried it in this recipe. If you do, please let us know how it turns out! ~Elise

  67. rose

    This recipe is so lovely!
    I followed the basic, but reduce the hotness to prevent my husband from tummy toubles, but in overall it was really great. I used schoolfillet that commonly available in netherland markets, the fish could endured the process.
    Thanks a lot! ^_^

  68. magdalena

    I cooked this recipe last night and it was easy and delicious. Thank you for sharing it. as mentioned, I did add more cumin,salt and lemon juice. My husband and friends loved it.

  69. Leilani

    This dish is right up my alley for favorite flavors… Guess what!? Well I used TILAPIA and it turned out perfect. Thank you for the recipe!

  70. Christine

    Love, love, love this dish. I made it for dinner the first time last night. I used cod and it held together fairly well. Will definitely be making this again!

  71. Tracy

    I made this with a combination of frozen tilapia, flounder, and mahi mahi (it needed to be used, hence the Google search for fish stew that led me here). I used bell pepper from the freezer, and regular paprika. No other variations. My husband had the first bite and said “$#!+, that’s good.” My young kids didn’t like it, which was great because we got to eat theirs. (They weren’t in the room for the cursing.) Absolutely divine.

  72. Dragonkat747

    This stew was so good! I made it last night – and my husband was skeptical about it, but he wolfed it down and loved it. I enjoyed the prep, which is a little involved but not hard at all – it really honors each ingredient to cook them all just right (not just throw everything in a pot all at once). The balance between acidic (from the lemon juice and tomatoes) and creamy (from the oil and coconut milk) is incredible. I made the rice, and put two 1/4 cup packed little mounds of rice to one side of the bowl, and dished the soup in beside it. Looked lovely. We drank an inexpensive Vino Verhdi with the stew. We have just enough left over for another dinner, and I can’t wait to eat it.

  73. Sarah Korn

    Thank you for this amazing recipe. I had been looking for a new way to make fish. The only changes I made were…I added some lime zest. Instead of the Hungarian paprika(i didn’t have any) I used curry powder and I added the cilantro at the end after I turned off the flame. (I like fresh cilantro much more than when its cooked.)This recipe is a keeper!

  74. Tamara

    LooOOOve your site, have been using it frequently for a week or two now, and every recipe has been a serious hit here. Tonight I made your Moqueca…
    I am an American living in Brasil, married to a Brazilian, and I have never tasted Moqueca before…my husband LOVED it! He said it tasted “just right” and used the word “awesome” to describe it at least four times. Yay!
    Obrigada, Elise!

  75. Ashley

    This was DELICIOUS. I’ve used a lot of your recipes and this was so far my favorite (though chimichurri sauce and huevos rancheros are close contenders). I had one question- when would you use palm oil if it were to be incorporated into the recipe? would you saute the vegetables with it? thanks Elise for sharing this!

    Use it instead of the olive oil. ~Elise

  76. Becky

    Back again to visit this recipe. Made this evening for 50 people for a church fundraiser dinner! HUGE hit, loved it! Used Pollock fillets instead of Cod because it was much less expensive, but it took on the lime/cilantro fridge time very well, and held up well through being stirred and served. I keep coming back to it, it’s so great!

  77. Sailor

    Use fish steaks instead of fish fillet, and dont use any oil, the browning can be done without oil in a teflon pan. The oil will come from the fish bones during cooking. In the soup, the fish meat will flake away from the bones, so the bones are easy to recover. This is also healthier.

  78. Ashley G.

    This recipe is so DELISHHH! I made it two weeks ago for dinner and im back again already! The first time I made it a added a few things like mushrooms, celery and corn! The Corn really went well with the flavors. And this time around I’m getting a little crazy and adding in some fresh lump crab meat and a few shrimps! So excited. This recipe will for sure become a staple in my cook book!! Thanks!

  79. Mamie

    I made this recipe and it was absolutely amazing, I made a couple of changes…I added about a tablespoon of ginger to the onions and bell peppers…I sauteed my veggies in olive oil and dende oil…I also added about 2 tablespoons of dende oil at the end before simmering… I only used about 3/4 of the cilantro bush…. Thanks Elise for this recipe…I will be definitely making this on a regular basis…..Mamie

  80. Jooles

    This sounds beautiful. Elise do you think it would be possible to use a pack of mixed Seafood in this consisting of Prawns, Squid and mussels.

    It’s worth a try! Though I don’t think it will work with the squid. Squid needs to be cooked either for a very short time (just a minute) or for a very long time, otherwise it’s impossibly rubbery. ~Elise

  81. Eve

    Hi, my name is Eve, you can find palm oil in an international food market that caters to african cousin. They sell palm oil that you can find and add to this recipe. I made this dish with yoca and could not believe it, it was great.

  82. Sara

    Hi Elise, Thanks again for an amazing recipe. Have made it twice and everyone loves it. Have a question though. My mom is allergic to tomatoes, its it possible to substitute them or omit them completely?

    Hmm, good question. There really isn’t a good substitute for tomatoes, so I would just try the recipe without them. I’m guessing it will still be good. ~Elise

  83. Roger E

    Elise ~
    Well, I never got to try this dish when I was in Rio (never made it to the Statue at Corcovado either!), but I’m a fanatic about the food (and, as a composer/musician) the music of Brasil! I had this dish locally a few months ago at an upscale restaurant with Brasilians on the cooking staff, and was in tastebud heaven! As someone who loves to cook both food and music, I’ve been planning to try making this dish myself all week, gathering ingredients at each market stop. My first attempt here was made with Thresher (black) Shark steak tips, a very affordable alternative to swordfish, though not always available. The results were absolutely out of this world! Even my wife, who never enjoys any kind of fish, said: “I wouldn’t mess with this at all…the balance of spices was perfect!” Sooo, on a scale of 1 t0 10, I’d have to say this was a solid 20! Definitely will be in my top recipes rotation from now on!
    Muito Bom!
    Obrigado…

  84. frank campbell

    Tried out your recipe but substituted the cod with 2lb of ling freshly caught by a neighbour off the coast of Hartlepool,England.First time cooking a brazilian dish and im sure to cook it again.Thanks for the blog

  85. Ellen

    I have cooked this recipe a few times and shared it and your website with some friends. This Moqueca recipe is TO DIE FOR and really easy. I don’t often find such fresh and sophisticated tastes reflected in internet recipes. I will keep your blog handy. Good Job!

  86. Tina

    This was fantastic! I doubled it but kept everything in one pot, just putting the fish in two layers. Served it over the rice, which my Brazilian fiancee said tasted just like his mother’s!

  87. Zeynep

    I’ve been making this recipe for a while now, but I’ve never commented, so I figured I would! This is one of our favorite recipes, a 5/5 in our book. I love how colorful it is, and how it’s good for you. I first made it for just myself and my husband, then my parents (who loved it and request it constantly), and then my extended family. Everyone loves it. I also love the rice, although I use chicken stock instead of water out of habit. But the onion and garlic are excellent additions!

    Plus, one awesome thing about this recipe is that it makes you sound really bad ass. “What are you making for dinner?” “Oh, just some Brazilian fish stew.” It’s actually really easy to make but it sounds very impressive. Heh heh heh.

  88. Marina

    Hello! I’m Brazilian and I must say Moqueca is one of my favorites. The only thing that is missing is the Pirão. Do you know it? All you have to do is add to some manioc flour a little of the fish stock and cook it unitl it is smooth. It turns out wonderful!

  89. Karyn

    Wow! I made this tonight with grouper, and substituted a mix of black pepper, cumin and Trader Joe’s African Smoke (paprika and salt based).
    It was fantastic!!! The grouper held up very well, and the soup was great! Thanks, Elise.

  90. Morro de sao paulo

    Being from Bahia I love moqueca (with palm oil). It’s a pretty strong dish for those not used to it, but it’s really delicious. When I make moqueca I add some fresh chili. It’s also great to add other types of seafood such as shrimps or squid. And in Bahia it’s served with rice, pirao and farofa.

  91. semiswede

    I had to write and say that we absolutely loved this. It was so easy to do and so delicious. I can’t wait to have friends over for a dinner party now! I’m looking forward to trying the Brazilian cheese bread next. Thank you!

  92. Ann T.

    This is a really good recipe. I used Cod and Coconut Oil (as I do with all of my cooking)instead of Olive oil. For anyone who thinks coconut or palm oil is bad for you, you need to research it. Coconut and Palm oils are saturated fats, but they are medium chain fatty-acids and not long chain. They, especially coconut, are actually really good for you.

  93. Sasa

    I’m always up for a recipe that uses coconut milk, so thank you! I’ve never heard of this one but a favourite Brazilian recipe of mine is Pao de Queijo (sp?), chewy little breads made with tapioca flour. Though I’ve never been to the American continent, I ate them a lot in Japan where they are popular for their “mochi mochi-ness,” a quality highly prized there and found they are easy to make.

    Hi Sasa, Here you go! Brazilian Cheese Bread ~Elise

  94. Caroline

    I remember moqueca de peixe being the very first Brazilian dish I ever tried. Not having eaten Brazilian food in awhile, I decided to make this dish for dinner. It was AMAZING! Thank you so much for posting the recipe!

  95. Roger Ebacher

    Well, it’s been too long since I’ve made this dish, and I decided today was time to do it again! This time, I used monkfish…which is why I’m posting about the recipe again. Monkfish seems to me almost the perfect fish for this kind of stew…very firm texture that holds up to stirring, and a flavor that, while not exactly like lobster, does take on the flavors of whatever it is cooked in quite well. The results tonite were a bit spicy hot…probably due to my generosity with the paprika and ground peppercorns…but the coconut milk I used was very creamy, so the blend of the two was like heaven…with a bit of hell for good measure! Don’t know why I tend to think of this as a summertime dish…I think it would be delightful on a cold evening in late Fall or early Winter…mmmm, sounds like a plan!

  96. Libbie

    After reading some of the comments, I had to make this. I made a double recipe right off the bat with tilapia. I even had the palm oil, purchased from small/hard to find west/central african store in the area. OMG!!! It was SOOO amazing! I am a coconut milk fanatic and thought nothing could beat the Thai curry recipes, but this certainly is ranked as high or higher than my favorite Thai dishes. And I was so surprised! Especially since it had so many simple/easy to find ingredients!

  97. Dominic

    I love fishing for rockcod off the California coast, but have gotten bored with my old recipes. Thanks for this one! We used it with fresh caught lingcod…and absolutely LOVED it! I stuck to your recipe and the lingcod held up well. My wife (a Carioca from Rio) used her own method for the rice and we paired it all with San Francisco sourdough. Now I will look forward to this wonderful dish after every fishing trip. Thanks!

  98. JB

    Pretty good recipe! Yes indeed. :-) It’s called Pescado con Coco in most of LatAm. I usually do half fish and half shrimp. Also, where I am on the East Coast we either use striped bass (aka rockfish) or red fish (aka ocean/white perch). I’m partial to red fish. Another note, if you are in the Mid-Atlantic region, you can easily obtain palm oils, yuca starch (tapioca), pretty much anything used in LatAm / Caribbean cooking. One other tidbit: If you can find it, use culantro as opposed to cilantro for cooking. Culantro has a much stronger flavor than it’s milder Asian cousin. Cilantro can still be used as the end garnish.

  99. Judy

    Great recipe! I love your cooking blog, so many unique recipes! I have made quite a few and have loved every one of them :-)
    I like my food a little on the sweet side, so I did add a T of brown sugar, 2 heaping T of P.B. and some Better than bouillon chicken slime :-). The rice was awesome! Hubby loved! I used the short grain valencia rice.
    Delicious! Did not use green onion though.