Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

One major perk to traveling is coming home with an arsenal of new ideas and inspiration for the kitchen. I left Brazil with a crazy amount of concepts swimming around in my head, and I’ve shared a variety of them in the past month like Brigadeiro, Pão de Queijo, Pesto Broccoli and Caipirinhas.

Today I’m sharing my all time FAVORITE Brazilian inspired recipe… Moqueca!!

Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

Moqueca is a Brazilian fish stew made with various kinds of seafood, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh cilantro and palm oil (sometimes referred to as dendê oil). I first sampled this dish in Bahia which is where it’s originally from. You can now find it all over Brazil, but the various stews I tried while in Salvador de Bahia were truly incredible – especially at Villa Bahia.

Palm oil, which gives this dish it’s beautiful color and is naturally reddish as it’s high in beta-carotene, is essential for making Moqueca! You can find it at Whole Foods or on Amazon.

I opted to use mahi mahi and shrimp for my version of Moqueca but you can easily sub in any kind of flaky white fish you prefer. Load it up with plenty of fresh cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice and you’ll have an exotic meal that really takes less than 30 minutes to make!!

Moqueca (Traditional Brazilian Fish Stew)


Yield: Serves 4-6



    For the Fish
  • 1 1/2 pounds Mahi Mahi, cut into large chunks
  • 8 ounces shrimp, peeled and de-viened
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon palm oil, melted
  • For the Stew
  • 2 tablespoons palm oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cups bell peppers, finely sliced
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup fish stock (vegetable stock works too)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1-2 cups jasmine rice


    For the Fish
  1. Combine the Mahi Mahi, shrimp, lime juice, garlic, ginger and palm oil in a large bowl. Toss everything together to combine and let the fish marinate for 20-30 minutes.
  2. After marinating, drain the fish and shrimp of any excess liquid. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package directions. Set aside once done.
  3. For the Stew
  4. In a large heavy dutch oven, melt the palm oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, onions and bell peppers and sauté for 4-5 minutes until fragrant and the onions are softened. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and nestle the marinated Mahi Mahi and shrimp in the bottom of the dutch oven. Season the fish with salt and pepper and then add the fish stock and coconut milk to the pan. It should just about cover the fish and shrimp.
  6. Bring the stew to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes until the shrimp is cooked and the fish easily flakes apart. Taste and season with the juice of 1 lime, more if you'd like, and add the cilantro, basil and more salt if desired.
  7. Serve the stew over the jasmine rice.


If you can't Palm Oil, or don't want to order it, you can easily use vegetable oil and add in a teaspoon or two of paprika to give the dish it's red color.

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  1. This turned out so gorgeous. As if I wasn’t already lusting after the whole trip experience, now I’m wishing we were simply neighbors so that I could come taste the flavors of Brazil as you recreate them.

  2. I made this last night and it turned out delicious! I substituted cod for the halibut, and coconut oil + paprika for the palm oil. It did take me about 1 hour from beginning to end probably because I had to stop and read the recipe many times- I am sure next time- it will be closer to 30 minutes.Thank you for the great recipe! 🙂

  3. I made this and it was SO good! I substituted chilli infused olive oil for the palm oil and used sea bream as it was on offer in my favourite supermarket. I will find palm oil for next time I make it, I didn’t have time to call in the shop I know often has it. Thank you for another great recipe!

  4. wow, I am amazed by how wonderfully you described this dish and it looks fantastic !
    I can truly say these truthfully since I was born and raised in Bahia. Great job Gaby.

  5. I made this for my wife on Valentines day and we loved it. You may want to add a baguette to sop up the delicious sauce. Mahi Mahi wasn’t available so I substituted Silver Corvino (sp?). We recently went to a fancy Brazilian restaurant and I ordered their Moqueca; it was not as good as this recipe.

  6. I’ve been making this dish for a while and wanted to check to see if there were any cool recipes on the internet and guess whose recipe came up as the third google? YOURS! Glad to see your site has been so successful! Can’t wait to try it.

  7. Made this for a large group for dinner last night (I tripled the recipe). It was delish and got rave reviews. I will definitely make again.

  8. I’ve made this several times with all kinds of different seafood. Its beyond awesome, I can’t get enough of it. I always use 2 or three times the recommended ingredients and 6 or more lb.’s of seafood, White fish, scallops, & shrimp are my favorite. Oh and a dash of hot sauce for some heat. I love this, Thank you!

  9. How crucial would it be to use the dendé oil for the moqueca?
    Is it true moqueca is good for digestion?

  10. I’m making it tomorrow! However, unless it’s labeled sustainable, using palm oil destroys rainforests. Please consider another oil.

    1. I totally hear you and was able to find a sustainable palm oil. You can use any oil – but the color will be slightly different. Recently I’ve been doing it with regular coconut oil

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