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Fish Moqueca (Moqueca de Peixe)



Greetings from… Florida! If you often follow my recipes, chances are that you noticed that I haven’t posted anything new in a little while. Well, it was all for a very good reason: we were in the middle of a move! Selling the house, packing all our belongings, finding a place to move in, finding a new school, etc. has kept my hands completely full for a few months – and doing it all in the middle of summer while taking care of my two crazy boys certainly did not make the process any easier… But what really matters is that we are all moved in and well-adjusted to Tampa! We absolutely love it here!!

So to celebrate my first post in long time, I want to share one of my BEST recipes! In fact, I cannot believe I haven’t posted my Fish Moqueca here earlier (I just had a recipe for Shrimp Moqueca).

Fish Moqueca is a traditional stew from the Northeastern part of Brazil – especially from Bahia, which is a culinary paradise! It is made with delicious ingredients, such as coconut milk, red palm oil, and cilantro. It has a beautiful yellow/orange color – due to the red palm oil – and a delicate, unique flavor. I often make this recipe in my events because it is such a crowd pleaser! It is so simple to make and it is, in my opinion, one of the recipes that best showcase the delicious food from Brazil. I hope you enjoy!

Serves 6


  • 1 ¾ pounds deboned fish (such as cod, swordfish, or halibut) cut into filets
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons red palm oil (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 small chili pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 large ripe tomato (or 2 mediums), seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and finely sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and finely sliced
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped


Place fish in a large sealable container. Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle garlic on top. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Coat the bottom of large heavy-duty pan (see Cook’s notes) with 2 tablespoons of red palm oil. Spread the chili pepper and half of the onion slices over the red palm oil. Place the fish fillets over the onions, and cover with the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the remaining onions, green pepper and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

Set uncovered pan on stove top over medium high heat, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium and drizzle with coconut milk and remaining red palm oil. Cook until vegetables are tender and fish flakes easily with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes (see Cook’s Notes).

Remove from stove, and top with cilantro. Serve immediately with jasmine rice and Farofa.

Cook’s Notes:

Red palm oil is a widely used ingredient in Brazilian cuisine – especially in the Northeastern region of Brazil. It gives a beautiful color, and earthy tones to the food. The best part? It is good for you! Red palm oil contains the highest amounts of vitamins A and E of any plant- based oil. Its dark red color comes from carotenes, such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene (vitamin A) nutrients that provide color to fruits and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. Red palm oil can be found online, at international grocery stores, and at Trader Joe’s.

Traditionally this recipe is cooked in a clay pot in Brazil. I don’t have a clay pot (I need to get one!), and I make my Moqueca in a Dutch oven or in a large pan. Quite honestly I don’t think that the use of a clay pot is so important for the final result, but it does make for a really cool presentation at the table!

The cooking time for this recipe depends on the fish used. I often make Moqueca with cod – it’s affordable and I love the texture and flavor! Cod cooks relatively fast; so usually the peppers will be a bit more al dente than if I use, for example, swordfish. In my opinion, what really matters in this recipe is the consistency of the fish: it must be tender, but yet it needs to hold its shape without falling apart.

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