Moqueca – Brazilian Fish Stew

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.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4



  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds 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 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin 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 tablespoon 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


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin 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


1 Coat fish with garlic and lime juice: 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 Make rice for serving with soup: 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.

3 Start cooking the onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion greens: 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.

4 Layer vegetables with fish, add coconut milk: 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.

moqueca-horiz-method-3 moqueca-horiz-method-4

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.


5 Simmer, cook, adjust seasonings: 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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  • Danielle

    We doubled the coconut milk. We’ll have to double the recipe next time because the boys couldn’t stop eating it and we had none left for tomorrow night! Probably one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.


  • Jeannette

    Made this tonight with fresh halibut while on vacation in Maine! Awesome! We did use only half of the bunch of cilantro- it seemed like a generously sized bunch!

    The timing was off for me; I forgot to cook rice- so we opted for garlic bread.

    It was an excellent recipe- with 1 1/2 # of halibut it was perfect for four adults.

    Thank you- will definitely make this again!

    The one concern with the recipe is that it could be more clear not to include the lime juice marinade in the stew. I used a little, but not all.


  • Carnicia Humphery

    Can you use any other milk besides coconut milk?

    • Carrie Havranek

      Coconut milk is really central to this dish; it makes the stew incredibly creamy. That being said, Carnicia, if there’s an allergy to be concerned with, you could try other nut milks, soy milk, or whole milk as some other folks in the commenting thread have suggested. Hope this helps!

  • Angela

    This was super good! I enjoyed it much more than expected! I added fresh thai basil at the end- a great decision!


  • Diane

    I have made this a dozen times and just LOVE it! Very simple and great instructions—love the placement for cooking—keeps the fish all “together” for serving. I add whatever is in the fridge to get used up—mushrooms, kale., asparagus. Always surprisingly easy and tasty


  • Aaron

    Better than the first two I tried, but maybe quadruple seasonings. This is not a dish for delicate palettes.


  • klynn

    OMG! Made this last evening with cod fish and shrimp and used the two whole peppers and a bit more coconut milk and it was DELICIOUS!! You can really tailor it to your own — more spicy, less spicy, add other fish or seafood. Definitely will be a regular for me.


  • Flora

    Could you use catfish in this recipe?

  • MKJ

    Hi Elise,
    I am making this Moqueca very soon but have a duhhh question first: how is rice served with it? On the side? Under the moqueca? ( that is so fun to say, moqueca!)
    I haven’t seen this Q asked by anyone else so the answer must be obvious to most all. Thank you for holding my hand through this preparation.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi MKJ, I would just serve some rice on the side. I tend to like rice over bread in general, which is why I mention it, but moqueca is a soup, so you can serve it with whatever starch you like on the side.

  • Diamond

    This is like the first recipe where the results are good without having to modify it or add outside ingredients. I’m in love. We had this at a Brazilian restaurant last weekend, and we talked about it all the following Week. So when I found it my husband was on it to the store. Luckily we had everything in the house but tomatoes. So definitely keeping this as a go to recipe for a quick dinner. It was so filling with the rice too.


  • Eby

    I have a question:
    How would I convert this to feed 60people?

    I only ask because I don’t have experience in converting some for so few into something for so many.

    • Carrie Havranek

      Eby, wow, that sounds like a delicious undertaking! By my math, you’d have to multiple the recipe ingredients by 15. Best of luck to you!

  • Ebs

    It was great thank you so much!
    Did a test batch and even my toughest family liked it.


  • Cari

    This is excellent. You can add shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and top with crab too!


  • Cláudio

    In Brazil we have two different moquecas, this one from Bahia and the capixaba, from Espírito Santo state. Both are delicious, the only difference is that the moqueca capixaba has no coconut milk, and it takes olive oil instead red palm oil. I like to prepare any of them with red snapper, prawns and sliced plantain or banana.

  • katie

    so delicious. i was worried it’d be bland because it wasn’t as ‘intricate’ as the NYtimes recipe but i also didn’t feel like making my own fish stock, which that called for. this is exceptional. i did half the fish it called for and added some shrimp at the end (so as not to overcook it). sooooo good!


  • Harry H.

    Did I miss it? Where is the garlic for the stew added?

  • Rebecca Monnikendam

    My family is wild about this stew – I used tilapia and added potatoes. So good!


  • Erin

    Lord this is good


  • Sheri

    Delicious!! Creamy and tangy with pops of sweet from the tomatoes. With rice it’s a filling and fairly simple dinner. Thank you!

  • Barbara

    Loved it! Such great flavor!! I added shrimp to it. Will be making again real soon!
    Wondering if I can use light coconut milk next time?


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Barbara, I once did an experiment in which I bought every brand of full fat and light coconut milk I could find at our local grocery store. A friend of mine and I taste tested each one. The verdict? The light coconut milks were universally bad tasting. The cans of regular, full fat coconut milk? All delicious. This is why I advise to always use full fat coconut milk. That said, if you have a brand of light coconut milk that you have tasted and you like, by all means use it!

  • Vanessa Gorski

    Divine! No rice needed. Perfect meal for a cold January night while following a Keto diet. So much flavor and very filling! I did not measure but was generous with the red pepper, paprika, and lime juice. Also used extra garlic.. because I always do. I used all of the peppers instead of half of each because I love a vegetable forward stew. And did 1 pound cod and 1 pound shrimp just to mix it up. Will definitely recommend to friends and make again!


  • Stephanie

    I can’t do dairy or coconut. Would it be okay to use almond milk or cream? I would love to try this recipe.

  • Sarah

    Absolutely delicious thank you.


  • C

    This was awesome. Used tilapia instead and a whole red pepper instead of the half and half. I’ve also seen this stew use salmon, so I don’t think it needs to be white fish.


  • Cindy

    Great recipe. I don’t like fish much but my husband does. I added small potatoes for me but it really doesn’t need it..the fish tastes great. He sure enjoyed it!


  • Cass

    Perfect creamy soup for those of us who can’t enjoy dairy. Has become an easy and quick go-to.


  • ARmike

    I have made this 5 times now. We are empty nesters and wife doesn’t like fish (not my problem). I make a big batch as one can eat on this for days but my real reason is to take a bunch to my coworkers. When chill is in the air the call for this soup is also. Well chill is in the air and I have bought some cod. I always add shrimp and am thinking of adding some mussels, don’t see how they could hurt. Live in Arkansas so we like a little Cajun seasoning in everything. Tony Chachere’s. One can not go into a Louisiana restaurant without that being on the table.


  • Mary Jane Weingartner

    I made this for my Brazilian boyfriend and he loved it!


  • Jessica

    Been making this recipe for years now. It’s delicious and worth the effort.


  • Kelly

    I make it all the time! My absolute favorite!




  • Aoife kavanagh

    That was so good!! I used snapper as it’s a good firm fish and had to use smoked instead of sweet paprika but other than that we really enjoyed this! Definitely putting this on the “make again” list!


  • Anne

    Followed as best I could verbatim, had to use smoked paprika and Aleppo pepper, augmented sea bass with scallops. It was delicious! Hope to have sweet Hungarian paprika in the cupboard next time. So easy to follow your instructions, timing was great. Thank you so much, this recipe going on my go to rotation.


  • Maxine

    Perfect- btw I bought palm oil from amazon-totally brings it all together- made exactly as the recipe calls for (just added a few shrimp as noted)


  • Jessica

    I made this tonight and it was deeeelish!! Thanks for the awesome recipe. :-D


  • Maria

    Hi there! Sorry it’s missing an important ingredient that makes the taste completely different. Azeite de dendê! This oil it’s different from olive oil. To make muqueca YOU HAVE TO HAVE azeite de dendê- or it’s only a fish curry and not the typical Brazilian. Sorry!
    It does look like a very yummy fish curry.
    I always make fish curries myself and your recipe is very similar to mine. Being out of Brazil now I don’t use azeite de dendê anymore as it’s hard to find.
    If you want the real Brazilian taste you need azeite de dendê…

    • Aireol

      how much would we use!? I wanna try!

      • Maria

        Sorry l actually dont know how much or how to use the Azeite de Dende. I have never done in Brazil – so many places in Rio would do wonderful ones…so l did not made one myself ;)
        So, l suggest you have a look online …. Good luck!

  • G McCreedy

    Do you cook the fish first or does it cook when you layer it with the vegetables and simmer in coconut milk? The recipe didn’t seem to specify or maybe I just misunderstood.

  • Gem

    This was my first time making Moqueca. I followed the recipe and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe!


  • Krista

    I made a vegan version of this soup and it rocked!! In lieu of fish I used roasted sweet potatoes and added spinach to the coconut broth. Other than that I didn’t change a thing and it was fabulous. Thanks for the recipe.


  • Sudha

    Loved it! Simple and tasty!


  • Holli

    I haven’t made this recipe yet but I tried it at a restaurant tonight and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it. Before I try this recipe, I have to ask, does it freeze well? I live alone and would love to not have to eat it all in a few meals lol

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Holli! Emma here, managing editor. My gut instinct on this one is that it wouldn’t do really well frozen and reheated. I think the fish might get mushy and the coconut might curdle. I think a better route would be to half the recipe so you just make two servings and then just plan to eat the second serving sometime in the next few days! Hope that helps!

  • Michael

    I first made this years ago when the family was away on a trip. I didn’t want to make something that I didn’t think they’d like so, being on my own, I tried my hand at it. I made this with fresh halibut and had it with some crusty bread. Mind blown. I’ve made this countless times since and everyone – and that includes the family – loves it. Super flavorful and a great way to introduce something new to friends. It’s never failed me!


  • Lau

    This is my go to for a really special company dinner. Everyone loves it.
    I’m making it again tonight!
    Thank you for this recipe.


  • Nes

    I will be making mine with palm oil cause we use it for cooking. Sold in the UK. Will use Jack fish or Snapper. How much oil do i use?


    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Nes! Emma here, managing editor. Elise instructs adding just a tablespoon to the stew along with the coconut milk. You could probably also substitute palm oil for the cooking oil needed for cooking the vegetables. Enjoy!

  • Rickie Conn

    I LOVE it, we have 4 kids and EVERY one of them loves it. I used sesame oil instead of palm oil and some trout belive it or not! I poached the trout in the grill with butter lemon & garlic then added it to the soup… amazing!! it’s a family favorite, tonight was the 3rd time I made it. I make curry ginger rice to serve with it and you can’t belive how fast it disappears!


  • Nicoal

    I made this the other night and it was delicious! Everyone enjoyed it. I used Tilapia, since it’s always on sale here and I’m constantly buying it up.

  • Antoniya

    Fantastic! I made it with swordfish and it was heavenly! Thank you so much!


  • Anny

    I’m Brazilian, I tried your recipe and it was really good. I made some changes, like the fish, but it worked very well.


  • Nette

    I will be making this tonight for supper, will be posting picture and how it goes. Can’t wait! P.S hubby is not a big fan of fish so I hope this he’ll appreciate

  • Charlie

    Absolutely amazing! I’ve made it 3 times now and each time it’s turned out perfect. Followed the recipe as is – amazing! My family loves it.


  • Flicker

    Im making this on Friday. I want to use cod fish. Normally when I cook with cod fish I let it soak and I wash it several times because of its high salt volume. Do you suggest I do that also with this recipe or just use less salt in the recipe?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Flicker, this recipe uses regular fresh fish, not salted dried fish like salt cod. If you want to use salt cod for this recipe, then you will have to soak it and rinse it several times to remove the salt.

    • Todd

      Yeah and I probably wouldn’t use any salt unless you feel you need it after finishing the recipe. It’s difficult to get all the salt out of dried fish.

  • Renata

    I have been making THIS Moqueca for couple years now, still one of my family’sfavorites soups. It’s quick and cheap, and you don’t need to be very skilled chef. Only extras I like to play with is lime juice or salt. It’s just perfect!


  • Gregory

    Tried this recipe and was pleased with the results. I used a combination of fresh Opah, Swordfish and shrimp. The lime and coconut milk make for a nice balance of creamy and sour. In addition, I make a stock from the shrimp shells and fish trimmings to add some additional liquid to the broth. I also put a in few squeezes of Sriracha to had a little more spice. I do wish I could make this dish with palm oil but this item was not available at my local store.


  • Rebecca

    It’s missing the dende oil (which is palm oil) which really makes the flavor in a moqueca! I like to throw a little malagueta pepper in there too!

  • Laurie Macomber

    Outrageously good!


  • Cath1way

    Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! So very enjoyable :) Elise, truly, all of your recipes have been divine and I am so impressed. Thank you very much for another winner!


  • Christy

    Over six years ago I started eating a whole food plant based, but I missed this soup so I adapted it and will make it for special occasions. I omit the oil and use potato, tofu, black beans, or a combination, instead of the fish. It tastes just as good!


  • Nancy

    I was given some blue fin tuna. Do you think this fish would be firm enough for this recipe? All these comments are a great help. Thank you

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Nancy, I’ve made moqueca with salmon, but not fresh tuna, so don’t know what the taste would be like. I do think tuna is firm enough to use in this stew, no problem. If you make it with the tuna, please let us know how it works out for you!

  • Ellen Tresidder

    My second time making this dish; deliciously wonderful and easy to make! Definitely special enough to serve to company.


  • Lavaughna

    What type of cocnut milk do i use sweetened or UNsweetened ???

  • Nancy

    Epicurious has a version of this that uses plaintain and no coconut milk, for the comment regarding coconut allergy. I haven’t tried it but the comments seem positive! :)

    • gail Scher

      I am about to make this soup. I was just wondering before I add the coconut milk. Does it leave the soup with a strong Coconut flavor?
      Thanks for any information

      • Ellen Tresidder

        No, not at all; just deliciously creamy.

  • Judy

    Is the lemon garlic added in with the fish?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Judy, the fish is tossed with lime (or lemon) juice and garlic in the first step. When you add the fish to the stew, don’t wipe off the lime or garlic, just add the fish as is into the stew.

  • Shellie

    What can I substite for the coconut milk?? Im highly allergic.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Shellie, coconut milk is so central to moqueca, I don’t know what to advise as an alternative. If anyone else has tried a substitution for the coconut milk, please feel free to comment.

      • Claire

        I would perhaps try using whole milk? (full fat)

      • Jean

        Moqueca with coconut milk is the Bahia kind. Look for Moqueca Capixaba recipes (from Espírito Santo estate) and you’ll find alternatives without the coconut milk.

    • Larine

      Substitution for coconut milk – almoND milk little nutty, cashew milk slightly sweet more like cow milk. Plain yogurt. Soy milk with a pinch of gelatin keep it creamy.

  • Daffodil

    I made it again last night. Soooo easy and quick if you already have the ingredients on hand and very flexible- add more of this, less of that as the mood strikes you. I love it.

  • Tony Joordens

    This soup sounds great and I want to make it. My wife and I are not compatible with garlic. Is there something else that we can sub for garlic to get this soup to make it great. We can take a very small amount of garlic.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Tony, then just skip the garlic or use a very small amount.

  • Lea

    While exploring the geography and culture of South America with my child, I came across this recipe and prepared it tonight. Wow!!! I didn’ t have palm oil (which is a terrible thing to use anyway, since its commercial harvest destroys the environment) but I can’t imagine it being any better. I did use tinned tomatoes, with their juice, and tossed in a handful of frozen shrimp when I added the cod. Everyone had 2nd, if not 3rd, helpings! Thanks.

    • Elise Bauer

      It is a wonderful stew, isn’t it Lea? I’m so glad you liked it!

  • PFMartins

    No use in making it if you cant find palm oil – this ingredient is central to the recipe.
    The portuguese don’t have bacalhoada – maybe you meant caldeirada which is basically the same as a boullaibaise with nearly any fish but cod (bacalhao).

  • MaryM

    I found the palm oil in my supermarket and cod was the only firm white fish here in the desert, and oh-my-goodness!! Amazeballz!! This was fantastic!! I forgot to use the palm oil, guess I’ll have to make it again. Just WOW!! I even used “diet” coconut milk – won’t do that again, but it was still about the most delicious soup I’ve ever made and probably had. THANK YOU for this!!! Happy (early) Birthday to me! :)

  • Jessica

    Hi! This recipe looks amazing!!! I am just leaning to cook so this may be a dumb question . . . the fish should be raw when put in the pot to simmer and cook, right? Then it cooks in the pot?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jessica, yes, the fish is raw when it goes into the pot and it cooks in the pot.

  • Ann

    While on holiday in Cornwall we had a fish stew at a restaurant. Chef had added some Brazil nuts. We love Moqueca and I always now add about 8 Brazil nuts roughly chopped. The crunch is unexpected but amazing.

  • Simone

    I like to add a bit of palm oil. maybe a bit of unsweetened coconut flakes. I’m from Brazil and I’ve seen different recipes from different regions…. they are all very delish! Try making it on a clay pot!

  • Megan

    I followed the recipe exactly just added baby shrimp and it was so delicious and looked beautiful. Thank you for this recipe!! It came out perfect! I had never heard of Moqueca before and now, it’s my favorite! Delectible! Low cal too!

  • Suzanne Fulton

    I’m allergic to bell peppers so I used a poblano. It is delicious! I’ve afr it for my family several times. I’ve made quinoa with your rice instructions too. Yummy!

  • Kirthi

    Made it and it was delicious. Didn’t have any bell peppers, so I subbed with some mushrooms and it was perf

  • Camie

    This knocked my socks off. Delicious recipe!

  • Lilly

    Hi Elise! I don’t know how to respond to a comment, so I’m just posting a new one. :)

    The Dominican dish is called “pescado con coco” (fish with coconut). I found a link for a recipe here, but it is a little different from my mom’s recipe which I’m including below in quotes. ;)

    It’s very similar to moqueca! Funny how small the world is. Food and music are the great connectors! :)

    From my mom:

    “You’ll need for four servings: 4 red snapper fillets , about 5 cloves of garlic (smashed) or 1 tbsp of garlic paste, 1 can of coconut milk (goya is fine), a handful of fresh cilantro, half red bellpepper sliced, half onion chopped (coarse), 1 tablet of chicken boulion knorr suiza is my favorite and about half tsp of ground anatto.

    In a deep dish pour coconut milk and add all ingredient except the fish and chicken bouillon.

    When it start to boil taste for salt and add fish and if necessary adjust salt by adding half of boulion to it.

    Also a small piece of habanero is added when the fish is in the sauce it should cook in about 6 to ten minutes. Serve over white rice. Or arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).”

    Although I can’t stand gandules and after making the garlic onion rice above- I don’t think I could go back to plain white rice now. ;)

    It’s just about time for dinner in my neck of the woods. I’m gonna go eat some more tasty stew!

    Thanks for sharing such awesome recipes! Bon apetit! Or in Spanish- buen provecho! ;)

  • Lilly

    I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I made this with the rice today and it turned out fantastic!

    There is a similar dish in the Dominican Republic made with red snapper and a gravy containing similar ingredients. So this recipe was so great and tasted like my mom’s/abuela’s home cooking.

    I did make a few changes. I added a little more garlic, red pepper, and cayenne than asked for and more lime/lemon juice. I also added some pan seared potatoes to the stew because I’m a broke college student and it will make the soup last longer. ;)

    It turned out very very good! I love this site! Thank you for sharing!!! :)

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Lilly, I’m so glad you liked it! I would love to hear more about the DR dish, does it have a name?

  • Carley

    I made this soup this evening and it was wonderful. Thank you for posting this recipe.

  • Reir

    I was reading “Gabriella, Clove and Cinnamon” by Jorge Amado, and his constant mention of delicious Bahian fish stew made me google it. I am a big fan of your “mom’s pork chops”, chicken gumbo and jalapeno cornbread, so of all the recipes out there, I decided to try this one. It was absolutely delicious! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  • haley

    Would you add corn or perhaps diced pan-fried plantains? That’s how I had this stew served when I was in Belize, and they added the perfect sweetness and texture. Not sure how much corn to add or how to cook it before adding (don’t want it to be mushy/would prefer to use fresh rather than frozen)

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Haley,
      I don’t know about plantains, but if you want to add corn, there’s no need to cook it ahead of time. Just add fresh or frozen corn with the coconut milk and you should be fine.

  • Steve

    Absolutely fantastic recipe! Our local seafood restaurant does a version of this
    ( and this recipe is spot on.

    We use whatever fish is fresh and a combination of shellfish, like crab meat, clams, mussels , prawns, and squid. I also kick up the red pepper flakes a bunch.

    So easy to make and such a fabulous dish. Can’t go wrong

  • Pei Fu

    This was my first time making any stew and this recipe is amazing!! I made this on a vacation at Aruba, I couldn’t find cilantro but it still tasted wonderful. Thank you so much :] Picture attached~

  • errol

    Add to post above Used the local favorite here “flake” – “gummy” or “school shark” – firm white flesh – holds shape – neutral taste – not strongly fishy.

  • errol

    Melbourne Australia Cooking for 9 – “Men’s Dinner” a dinner where the men do the cooking and the partners provide wine. Prepared as a soup with added fish stock to lighten the stew like strength. , used lemon juice – did not add the marinade but still had a pleasant lemony backtaste – coconut oil instead of unavailable palm oil – a little less salt – served with crusty bread stick slices. MARVELOUS no wonder it is a Brazilian favorite. Thanks Elise.

  • Eliza Erickson

    I just ran across this blog, saw the Brazilian version of fish stew. tried to keep it as close to your recipe posted…I did use canned tomatoes with a wee tad of the tomatoes juice and cut back on the salt because I cook for my elderly parents. Elise…hats off to you and thank you for posting this for others to try! This was absolutely wonderful, and the proof was that my mother who has a poor appetite on a good day, scoffed down 2 bowls with two chunks of crusty bread…I was just gob smacked. I would recommend this to anyone!!!! Thanks again!!!!! Eliza

  • 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.

    • Judy

      p.s. my husband caught all the fresh fish for this! Used blues and reds! And lemon and limes!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!


  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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 to see a Brazilian dish here. it’s not “olé Brasil” but “olá Brasil”.

    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

  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Simoneti

    I do not use coconut milk in my recipe instead I use heavy cream. You can’t see the difference.

  • Heather

    I made this last week using cod. It was easy and delicious! I will definitely make it again. Thanks!

  • 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.

  • marta

    wooooow the best soup ever!!! I addded some shrimps and it tasted amazing :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • arrgh!

    Used basa fillets and basmati rice. Was delicious. Basa held together well. Both my 5 yr old and 14 year old loved it.

  • Amy

    REALLY GOOD! Going into the rotation. Thanks Elise!

  • 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! ^_^

  • 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??

    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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Dania @ The Cookery

    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?

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

  • Arianne

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


  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Tibor

    Tried it yesterday – fantastic!

    Did it with Chilean Sea Bass and brown Basmati rice – everybody liked it; thanks!

  • 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. :)

  • 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…

  • marya

    I have lite coconut milk (from trader joe’s). Would that work?

    Should work fine. ~Elise

  • 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!

  • Rafael

    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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Chris Thorne


    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.


  • 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…

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.
    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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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! :-)

  • 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

  • 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

  • Lynn

    I made this for dinner and we loved it! Will definitely make this again.

  • 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

    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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

    • Shavon

      I followed the recipe to the T, and I loved all but the extreme sweetness. Is there anyway to make the dish less sweet?

      Thank you

      • Elise Bauer

        Hi Shavon, that’s odd, there’s nothing inherently sweet in the ingredient list. Did you by any chance used sweetened coconut milk instead of regular coconut milk?

        • Agnès Gaillard

          I just made the soup, and having the same problem.. My coconut milk isn’t sweetened. But I will try adding a bit of stock and spices.

  • 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

  • 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:


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


    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • Tim

      Ive actually followed this recipes twice now with tilapia and its worked out great both times. Has held together nicely

      • Elise Bauer

        Good to know it works with Tilapia, thanks for letting us know Tim!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • Bosque

      You can find palm oil anywhere in the Mid Atlantic region; East Coast. No sustainability “issues” since the oil is from nature’s origin (East African Countries). If you’re nearby, just pop into one of the many Latin – Caribbean or Afro-Caribbean stores. You can also find Culantro, which is what we use in LatAm to cook with. Its a native plant to the Americas and 3x bolder in flavor than cilantro. Cilantro is for garnish.

      • Diane

        Bosque, thanks for posting about the sustainability issues. I was going to comment that palm oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra are responsible for the destruction of orangutan habitat and that there are sustainable options but you beat me too it! :)

    • Kassia

      It’s now available at Trader Joe’s in the Sacramento area! Not sure about WF.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 :-)


    Thanks for the advice! ~Elise

  • 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

  • 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

    • Rana

      I used half 2% milk, half heavy cream because I didn’t have coconut milk available, and it is amazing. Granted, I made other modifications and I’ve never made or eaten a true moqueca before, so if you’re looking for a real moqueca, ignore me. If you just want something delicious with swordfish in it, go for it.