Brazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Soup and StewPaleoFish StewSalmon

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.

Photography Credit: 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

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) Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Marinating time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 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 ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

Other:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of 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, 1-2 cups

Method

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.

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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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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144 Comments / Reviews

No ImageBrazilian Salmon Stew (Moqueca)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Anna Latour

    So easy to prepare! My family loved it. It was tasty and satisfying I used a yellow and red pepper because that is all I had. I started it on the stove but then placed the oven at 325 for 30 minutes.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Max

    Delicious. Thanks for the recipe :)

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Nicole

    I made this recipie tonight for my husband and my 2 young girls and it was devoured by everyone! Super delicious.. I have to say I am a little mortified by the amount of people saying to use palm oil! Palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino. My only comment would be don’t use the palm oil, it doesn’t need It and is delicious without out!

  4. Tina

    Absolutely fantastic! As I’m isolating at home due to cancer and covid I depend on grocery deliveries. I just happened to have frozen salmon filets and the rest of the ingredients on hand. The stew was heartwarming. If I can’t get salmon I think marinating any fish or white meat would be equally delicious. Adding a new recipe to keep my palette from getting bored is really appreciated. Thank you so much!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Jamaica

    Delicious! I made small tweaks according to what I had on hand, including canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh. This will be a staple. I did find it a bit rich in a good way, but I lighten it up mixing in steamed garlic broccoli when I serve it. Next time I will double the veggies and again add broccoli since it holds the juices so well.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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