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Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca) with Coconut Milk

Immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of Brazil with Moqueca, a delectable fish stew enriched with the creaminess of coconut milk. This dish, bursting with the freshness of seafood and a medley of spices, is a celebration of Brazilian coastal cuisine.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca) with Coconut Milk



Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1.5 lbs (700g) white fish fillets (snapper, cod, or similar), cut into chunks

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 can (14 oz/400ml) coconut milk

  • 1 can (14 oz/400g) diced tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon palm oil (dende oil) – if available, for authenticity

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)

  • Cooked white rice for serving


  • Marinate the Fish:
  • In a bowl, season the fish chunks with lime juice, salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Allow it to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  • Prepare the Base:
  • In a large, deep pan, heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until softened.
  • Add Peppers:
  • Add the sliced red and yellow bell peppers to the pan. Sauté until they begin to soften.
  • Introduce Tomatoes:
  • Pour in the diced tomatoes (with their juice) and tomato paste. Stir well.
  • Bring in the Coconut Milk:
  • Pour in the coconut milk, stirring to combine. Add the palm oil for an authentic touch.
  • Season the Stew:
  • Season the stew with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and half of the chopped cilantro and parsley. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Simmering Time:
  • Allow the stew to simmer for about 15 minutes, letting the flavors meld.
  • Add Marinated Fish:
  • Gently place the marinated fish chunks into the simmering stew. Be careful not to stir too vigorously to avoid breaking the fish.
  • Finish with Herbs:
  • Sprinkle the remaining cilantro and parsley over the top. Let it simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Serve Over Rice:
  • Serve the Moqueca over cooked white rice.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Results:

  1. Authentic Palm Oil: If possible, use authentic Brazilian palm oil (dende oil) for a more traditional flavor.
  2. Fresh Ingredients: Opt for fresh fish and herbs to enhance the overall freshness of the dish.
  3. Adjust Spice Level: Control the spiciness by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes to suit your taste.

Nutrition Facts

4 servings per container

  • Amount Per ServingCalories400
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 25g 39%
    • Saturated Fat 15g 75%
  • Sodium 700mg 30%
  • Potassium 900mg 26%
  • Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
    • Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
    • Sugars 5g
  • Protein 30g 60%

  • Vitamin A 1200%
  • Vitamin C 80%
  • Calcium 149%
  • Iron 4%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutritional Notes for Brazilian Fish Stew:

  • Healthy Fats: The dish provides a good amount of healthy fats, primarily from coconut milk.
  • Protein Boost: Moqueca is a protein-rich dish, making it a satisfying and filling meal.
  • Vitamin-Rich: It’s a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, contributing to immune health and vision.
  • Mineral Content: The dish contains notable amounts of potassium, calcium, and iron.

Alterations and Modifications for Brazilian Fish Stew:

  1. Vegetarian/Vegan Version:
    • Alteration: Substitute fish with tofu or a mix of hearty vegetables like mushrooms and eggplant.
    • How to Achieve It: Marinate tofu or add vegetables during the simmering process.
  2. Low-Carb Option:
    • Alteration: Serve Moqueca over cauliflower rice instead of traditional rice.
    • How to Achieve It: Replace rice with cauliflower rice or another low-carb alternative.
  3. Gluten-Free:
    • Alteration: Ensure all sauces and seasonings are gluten-free, and serve over gluten-free grains.
    • How to Achieve It: Check labels for gluten-free fish sauce, tomato paste, and other ingredients. Serve over quinoa or gluten-free rice.
  4. Spicy Variation:
    • Alteration: Increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add fresh chili peppers for extra heat.
    • How to Achieve It: Adjust the spice level according to your preference during cooking.

Detailed Storage and Freezing Instructions for Brazilian Fish Stew:


  1. Broth and Fish:
    • Store leftover Moqueca in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  2. Accompaniments:
    • Keep rice, if served separately, in a separate container. Store herbs and lime wedges in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.


  1. Broth:
    • Freeze the broth in portion-sized containers for up to 1 month. Thaw and reheat on the stovetop.
  2. Fish:
    • If freezing with fish, cook the fish directly in the stew. Freeze in airtight containers for up to 1 month.
  3. Reheating:
    • Gently reheat the stew on the stovetop over medium heat. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to maintain moisture.

Make-Ahead Tips:

  1. Pre-Marinate Fish:
    • Marinate the fish in advance and store it in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  2. Prep Vegetables:
    • Slice and prepare vegetables ahead of time for quicker assembly.

Serving Tips:

  1. Fresh Herbs:
    • Garnish with additional fresh cilantro and parsley just before serving for a burst of fresh flavor.
  2. Lime Wedges:
    • Serve with extra lime wedges on the side for those who enjoy an extra citrus kick.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can I use frozen fish?

Yes, you can use frozen fish, but ensure it’s fully thawed before marinating and cooking.

What can I substitute for palm oil?

If palm oil is unavailable, you can use extra virgin olive oil as a substitute.

Can I make Moqueca in advance

Yes, the flavors often deepen when reheated, making it a great dish to prepare in advance.

Is there a non-coconut milk version

For a lighter version, you can use a combination of vegetable broth and a small amount of coconut cream.

Can I use other types of fish?

Certainly, choose firm-fleshed white fish like snapper, cod, or grouper. Adjust cooking times based on the thickness of the fish.

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