Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Salmon Moqueca

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

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Marinating time: 2 hours
  • 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 green 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


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


2 Layer ingredients in a large pot: 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.

salmon-moqueca-method-2 salmon-moqueca-method-3

Place the fish pieces, with the marinade, on top of everything, and start layering again—onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

3 Top with cilantro, coconut milk, olive oil: 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).

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


Garnish with remaining cilantro.

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Showing 4 of 58 Comments

  • Stefanie

    This stew is super good. I ended up making polenta to have at the bottom of the bowl with the stew on top. It ended up going great together and everyone at the table had seconds and thirds (crusty bread would have been great too). Even the four year old had two helpings of the salmon. I also put a couple limes on the table for people to squeeze if they wanted it to be a little more acidic.

  • Christina J Bollinger

    Loved this dish & so did my husband. He was very skeptical about the combination of ingredients, but fortunately he’s learning to trust my recipe selecting. Fantastic job Elise!! One for our rotation to be sure.

  • Brittany

    Absolutely amazing dish. The olive oil is not really needed, it makes the sauce a bit too oily. I added extra lime once it was done. My husband loved it and said it was restaurant quality. This will be added to my frequent recipe list. Thank you! Every recipe I’ve used from this site has been absolutely amazing!

  • sree

    ALSO, forgot to add that I also left out the last step of olive oil over the top before cooking since the extra fat did not feel needed and the dish still felt super rich and flavorful!

  • sree

    OMG, this was SO delicious! I usually eyeball measurements w cooking so juiced the whole organic lime, used a whole head of organic garlic (since it felt smaller than others found in super markets) and added a little extra paprika but otherwise stuck to the recipe and my whole family totally loved it!! Always love a one pot creation and this one felt like a fine dining experience! Thanks Elise!!

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