Now, this one is special… Moqueca is a marvelously tasty Brazilian seafood stew, with a decadent coconut milk base.
Simple ingredients like tomatoes, peppers and pantry staple seasonings, along with a squeeze of lime at the end, all come together to create magic.
It’s one of those dishes that are easy enough for any weekday, but impressive enough for company. Trust me, they’ll be asking for the recipe…
South America is a continent full of amazing flavors, from the simple yet delicious Peruvian Roast Chicken with it’s green Aji Verde sauce, to complex dishes like Chile’s Pastel de Choclo casserole.
Moqueca is in a category of its own. We’ve cooked it many times in the past. And yet it has taken all of these years to make its way to GypsyPlate.
Why? Because it had to be just perfect!
What is Moqueca?
is a seafood stew from the Brazilian states of Espírito Santo and Bahia, with both Portuguese and African influences. Both states claim it as their own, although there are variations.
Moqueca Capixaba is cooked in Espírito Santo. It is the lighter of the two variations, and is typically cooked in special Capixaba pans, which are black clay stew pots.
The variation we’re sharing today is Moqueca Baiana, from Bahia. It has the addition of coconut milk, which makes the broth rich and creamy.
Fish is the most common seafood used, though others can be added as well. We love mixing seafoods, so couldn’t help but add in shrimp and mussels.
Why You’ll Fall in Love with Moqueca Baiana
- First of all, the flavors. Moqueca is one of the most delicious dishes in the world!
- It’s easy. Unlike some special occasion meals, it can be on the table in about 45 minutes.
- It’s versatile. Any of your favorite seafoods will go great in it.
- Moqueca is a perfect meal to serve to company. It’ll be the star of the conversation.
Best Type of Fish for Stew
Ideally, you want a firm white fish for Moqueca. Some top contenders are haddock (which we used today), cod, halibut, mahi mahi, snapper, grouper, sea bass, or even tilapia.
Whichever species you choose, look for thicker cuts, as they hold up better in the stew.
Ingredients for Brazilian Seafood Stew
- Seafood – Today we used haddock, shrimp and mussels.
- Oil – Truly authentic moqueca baiana uses red palm oil. However, as it is controversial for both health and environmental reasons, we are using olive oil.
- Aromatics – Onion, ginger, garlic.
- Veggies – Bell peppers, tomatoes, tomato paste.
- Seasonings – Jalapeño, paprika, cumin.
- Coconut milk – Full fat for best flavor.
- Broth – Fish or shrimp broth are best for their added seafood flavors, but you can use chicken if that’s what you have available.
- Garnishes – Lime juice, cilantro, scallions.
Moqueca Baiana Recipe
1. Marinate the fish and shrimp: Squeeze one juicy lime over the fish and shrimp, and give it a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
2. Sauté veggies and aromatics: In a soup pot or braising dish, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, jalapeño and tomato paste. Sauté 6-8 minutes,
3. Cook tomatoes: Add sliced tomatoes and cook an additional 6-8 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down.
4. Finish the broth: Stir in coconut milk, broth, paprika and cumin. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
5: Add seafood: Add in fish and shrimp. Gently spread them throughout the stew, and ladle the broth over. Do not stir, as the fish can break apart.
Nestle the mussels into the stew. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes, or until the fish and shrimp are cooked through and the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
6: Serve: Ladle moqueca into bowls, and garnish with cilantro, scallions and squeeze on lime juice.
Tips and Tricks
- Use good quality seafood from a reputable vendor.
- Go with full fat coconut milk. This is a decadent treat, not diet food.
- Don’t stir after adding the fish, it can fall apart.
- Don’t skimp on the garnishes, especially the lime juice. They add a lot of flavor.
- For a shortcut, you can use frozen mussels. They aren’t as tender, but still taste great.
What to Serve with Moqueca Baiana
Moqueca is traditionally served with white rice, along with local dishes like farofa and pirão.
If you want to go the rice way, our Cilantro Lime Rice is great with moqueca.
We especially love having some crusty bread to sop up the sauce. Our easy No Knead Bread is a perfect accompaniment.
As with any Latin dish, a side of Tostones, or fried plantains, is always welcome.
Or if you want something green alongside your moqueca, it’s hard to beat a classic Ceasar Salad.
- Make it moqueca capixaba by omitting the coconut milk. It’s a lighter stew, but still delish.
- Try other seafoods like squid, octopus or crab. Or, keep it simple and just use fish.
- Some variations exist to cater to dietary restrictions. Though not as traditional, some moquecas swap the seafood for chicken or eggs, or even veggies like heart of palm and mushrooms.
Leftovers and Storage
Moqueca is great as leftovers, as the flavors build over time. That being said, we prefer not to store leftover seafood for too long. Refrigerate it in an air tight container up to 3-4 days.
Reheat in a pan on stovetop over medium heat.
Try this amazingly delicious Moqueca Baiana recipe in your kitchen, and find out why it’s one of our favorite dishes on the planet. It just might become one of your go-to special occasion and company meals!
Save or pin this great recipe, so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always sharing great recipes from around the world!
Moqueca Baiana, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try these other great seafood soups and stews:
Asopao de Camarones
Bahamian Boiled Fish
New England Clam Chowder
Laksa Noodle Soup
Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew)
This Moqueca Baiana recipe is an wonderfully tasty Brazilian seafood stew that's easy to make, and is perfect for special occasions and company.
- 1lb white fish, cut into large chunks (see note 1)
- 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 lime for marinating fish + more for serving
- 1.5 Tbsp cooking oil (see note 2)
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 4 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 13.5oz coconut milk
- 1 cup fish, shrimp or chicken broth
- 1lb mussels, scrubbed (see note 3)
- cilantro, for garnish
- scallion, for garnish
- limes, for juicing
- While preparing the rest of the recipe, add the juice of one lime to the fish and shrimp, and season with salt and pepper.
- In a soup pot or braising dish, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, jalapeño and tomato paste. Sauté 6-8 minutes,
- Add sliced tomatoes and cook an additional 6-8 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Stir in coconut milk, broth, paprika and cumin. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in fish and shrimp. Gently spread them throughout the stew, and ladle the broth over. Do not stir, as the fish can break apart. Nestle the mussels into the stew. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes, or until the fish and shrimp are cooked through and the mussels have opened (discard any mussels that have not opened).
- Serve in bowls, and garnish with cilantro, scallions and squeeze on lime juice.
- Good options are haddock (which we used today), cod, halibut, mahi mahi, snapper, grouper, sea bass, or even tilapia.
- Truly authentic moqueca baiana uses red palm oil. However, as it is controversial for both health and environmental reasons, we are using olive oil.
- Sometimes we use frozen mussels for a shortcut. I that case, cook according to the directions on the package, then add in during the last minute or two before serving. The juices that the frozen mussels are packed with can be used to replace some or all of the broth.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 606Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 284mgSodium 1247mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 3gSugar 5gProtein 67g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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