Moqueca - Brazilian fish stew

Moqueca is a Brazilian fish stew recipe commonly found on the coast. It is a fragrant and flavourful dish, usually prepared with white fish, tomatoes, coriander, garlic and onions, with some variations.The Moqueca Capixaba is from the state of Espírito Santo and influenced by Native Brazilian and Portuguese cuisine. They use olive oil and natural urucum pigment powder, and it is always cooked in a traditional clay pan. Moqueca Baiana also has a strong influence from African cuisine. They use dendê palm oil and coconut milk in the preparation. It is easy to find the dendê is Brazilian Shops.I will share the best version I have prepared at home, mixing those references, with an accompanying recipe for pirão, which is a moqueca sauce polenta.


  • 600 g fish white firm, skin off

  • 1/2 lime

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 5 plum tomatoes ripe

  • 2 onions medium

  • 2 bell peppers yellow and green

  • 1 bunch coriander

  • 1 bunch chives

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 green chilli fresh

  • 1 tsp paprika (substitute for urucum powder)

  • 5 tbsp olive oil

  • 200 g coconut milk

  • 2 tbsp dendê palm oil


  1. Cut the fish in 4 big pieces and season it with salt, black pepper, the lime juice and leave it to marinate in a glass dish while you do the next step.

  2. Chopp finely the chives and coriander (saving some for garnish in the end). Don't throw away the coriander stalks (you will use them). Dice the tomatoes and onions. Slice finely the bell pepper.

  3. Using a food processor, combine the peeled garlic, urucum (or paprika), coriander stalks, fresh chilli, 1 tsp of salt and blend until you have a paste. Divide the paste into 2 parts. Use one half to spread over the fish as it continues to marinate.

  4. Place the olive oil and the rest of the paste inside a large deep frying pan, and turn the heat on. At medium heat, fry the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, chives and coriander. When the vegetables releases their juices, add the fish pieces into that, cover with lid and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes.

  5. After 10 minutes cooking, turn down the heat, add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 5 more minutes, until the fish is properly cooked. Open the lid and garnish with chives and coriander. If you want, add a splash of dendê palm oil.

  6. Serve hot, with long grain rice, farofa and pirão. It will be a success, a truly flavourful meal!