Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Salmon stew based on Brazilian style moqueca fish stew. Salmon marinated in garlic, lime juice, paprika and cumin, the cooked with onions, bell peppers, tomato, cilantro, and coconut milk.

Salmon Moqueca
Elise Bauer

One of the dishes Northern Brazil is known for is their "Moqueca", a delicious savory fish stew made with a local white fish, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and coconut milk.

Several years ago a Brazilian friend of mine introduced to me a salmon version of this stew she had improvised, given that the typical Brazilian fish used for moqueca isn't found around here.

It was so good I begged Fernanda for the recipe, which she translated into English for me. (By the way, you can't get local salmon in Brazil, so this is really not an authentic moqueca, but a Northern California interpretation.)

Salmon Moqueca
Elise Bauer

What is surprising about the recipe's method is that you simmer the stew for a good 30 minutes at least. For those of us who love fish and seafood we know that fish and long cooking times do not go well together. The exception is this stew. It requires simmering the stew well past the point of of cooking the salmon, but it works!

The result is a rich, coconut creamy, deeply flavored stew.

The salmon is marinated first with lime juice, paprika, and cumin, and then simmered with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, in coconut milk.

The stew is even better the next day, after the flavors have had more time to meld. You can also easily freeze the soup (see How to Freeze Soup, Beans, and Broth). The soup reheats beautifully!

Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Marinating 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings



  • The cloves from 1/2 head of garlic, peeled, crushed, minced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds salmon, cut into 2-inch pieces (largish-bite sized pieces)

  • Extra virgin 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 regular (not light) coconut milk

  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, 1 to 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.

    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    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.

    Elise Bauer

    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.

    Elise Bauer

    Garnish with remaining cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
392 Calories
28g Fat
8g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 392
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 13g 63%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 337mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 24mg 118%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 753mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.