Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

In Bahia in Northern Brazil, there is a savory fish stew called “Moqueca” that they make with local fish. Fernanda Guimaraes Rosa, who writes the Brazilian food blog Chucrute com Salsicha, brought a Vancouver friend’s salmon version of Moqueca to party a while ago, and it was wonderful, my favorite dish of the day. The salmon is marinated first with lime juice, paprika, and cumin, and then simmered with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, in coconut milk. It was even better the next day.

Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca) Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6-8.



  • The cloves from 1/2 head of garlic, peeled, crushed, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon of coarse salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of sweet paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of dry cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of salmon, cut into 2-inch pieces (largish-bite sized pieces)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can thick coconut milk
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, 1-2 cups
  • Freshly cooked rice for serving


1 Mix together the marinade ingredients. Let the salmon marinate in this paste for at least 2 hours. The longer, the better.

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2 In a large pan (large covered skillet or Dutch oven), coat the bottom of the pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add a layer of sliced onions, and then a layer of sliced bell peppers, and a layer of sliced tomatoes. Place the fish pieces, with the marinade, on top of everything, and start layering again - onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add about half of your fresh cilantro to the top. Pour coconut milk over the top. Drizzle generously with olive oil over the top (several tablespoons).

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3 Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are cooked through.

Serve with rice; garnish with remaining cilantro.

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Showing 4 of 51 Comments

  • lydia

    Fantastic — I’ve had this recipe with other fish (in a Brazilian restaurant), but never with salmon. I’m so glad to know how to make it!

  • Elise

    Hi Jerry – Not only is the salmon marinated in lime juice for several hours, it’s cooked for 30 minutes with the stew. In this recipe, the salmon gets well cooked. Normally when we make fish stew, we put the fish in only at the end for 5 minutes. This recipe is different, but it works in its own way. The salmon ends up being meatier, and more infused with the flavor of the marinade and the stew. I really did like it even better the next day when I reheated it. So go figure. It breaks the rules (at least the ones we follow) about cooking fish, but it tastes great.

  • Anne Marie

    This recipe looks great, however, my husband is not a salmon fan either. What other fish would you suggest?

  • Lydia Sugarman

    It’s been years since I’ve had moqueca and never had a recipe for it, until now. Love this dish. It was always made with some kind of meaty, mild white-fleshed fish.

    Rice prepared the Brasilian way is a must! It always starts out with sauteing the rice and finely chopped onion in a little oil for a couple of minutes and then, adding the water to finish cooking as usual. So good!

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