Moqueca is a dead-simple, Brazilian seafood stew characterized by coconut milk, bell peppers and dendê oil.
Dendê oil is also known as red palm oil. Red palm oil is pressed from the fruit of oil palm trees and has a beautiful bright orange-red color. Its taste is somewhat meaty; its fragrance is slightly of anise; it’s unique. Palm kernel oil is the oil pressed from the kernel of the fruit. It has a much higher saturated fat than palm oil and lacks the bright color.
If you’ve even a moderate interest in saturated fats or rainforest destruction, these oils are probably on your radar. Palm kernel oil is used heavily in processed foods like packaged baked goods and peanut butter (Nutella is infamous for its reliance on palm kernel oil) and oil palms are high-yielding oil producers. High yield means more dollars per tree. As such, oil-palm trees are in high demand and in many parts of southeast Asia in particular, natural habitats are cleared to plant oil-palm monocultures. You can find certified sustainable red palm oil that is grown and harvested without damaging rainforest habitats. If you can’t or don’t want want to use it, substitute olive oil.
Fish and/or shrimp can be used in moqueca. Our favorite is to use cod or orange roughy but sea bass, mahimahi, halibut, or any firm white fish will do. If you like shellfish, use peeled and deveined shrimp. Some recipes also add squid or octopus. To use that, cut them into rings and add for just the last 60 seconds of cooking so they don’t get tough.
This recipe makes enough for 4 servings but is easily doubled to serve more. Leftovers reheat surprisingly well. Serve moqueca on its own as a soup, but my favorite is to serve it with white rice.
Mocequa Recipe Video (scroll down for recipe)
Mocequa Recipe – Printable!Print
Moqueca – Brazilian Seafood Stew
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 4
- 1 pound white fish and/or shrimp
- 5 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- 1 large white or yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon dendê oil (palm oil, see note above)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin*
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (15 ounce can)
- 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- Cooked white rice for serving
- Cut the fish into large chunks, about 2″.
- Cut the pepper and onion into strips; dice the tomato
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until warm. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add the peppers, tomato, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and saute 60 seconds.
- Add tomato sauce, coconut milk, lime juice and cover. Cover and bring to boil.
- Once boiling, stir in the seafood and cilantro. Simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until cooked (shrimp will only take about 5 minutes, fish may take a little longer)
- Taste for salt and lime, adding more if needed.
- Serve with white rice.
*Don’t like cumin? That’s fine! Omit and replace with one bay leaf
Nutrition info is based on using full-fat coconut milk, but low-fat coconut milk works fine. Nutrition info does not include rice
- Calories: 414
- Fat: 26
- Carbohydrates: 18
- Protein: 30