Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Here's an irresistible spin on moqueca, the classic Brazilian fish stew. Marinate salmon is layered with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and coconut milk and simmered on the stove.

Brazilian Salmon Stew 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.

Salmon: An Inspired New Spin on Moqueca

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 Californian interpretation.)

Salmon Moqueca
Elise Bauer

A Surprising Technique for Delicious Results

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 seafood, we know that fish and long cooking times do not go well together. This stew is an exception. 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.

Freezer-Friendly Salmon Stew

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!

More Easy and Comforting Seafood Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

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


For the marinade:

  • Cloves from 1/2 head garlic, peeled, crushed, and 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

For the soup:

  • 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 coconut milk (not light)

  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (1 to 2 cups), divided


  1. Marinate the salmon:

    In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, coarse salt, sweet paprika, cumin, and the black pepper. Let the salmon marinate in this paste for at least 2 hours. The longer, the better.

    marinade for salmon moqueca
    Elise Bauer
  2. Layer the ingredients in a large pot:

    Coat the bottom of a large covered skillet or Dutch oven with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add a layer of sliced onions, then a layer of sliced bell peppers, and then a layer of sliced tomatoes.

    vegetables for salmon moqueca stew
    Elise Bauer
    How to make Brazilian Salmon Stew Moqueca
    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, and olive oil:

    Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add about half of your fresh cilantro on top.

    Brazilian Salmon Moqueca with Coconut Milk
    Elise Bauer

    Pour coconut milk over everything. Drizzle generously with olive oil over the top (several tablespoons).

  4. Cook the stew:

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

    how to salmon stew
    Elise Bauer

    Serve hot in individual bowls, garnished with the remaining cilantro.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
392 Calories
28g Fat
8g Carbs
27g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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.