Moqueca, or Brazilian Fish and Shrimp Stew, is probably the close second to Feijoada on the list of most popular dishes in Brazil. Originated from state of Bahia, northeastern of Brazil, the Moqueca is a vibrant seafood stew cooked with peppers, tomatoes, onions and spices in a silk coconut broth.
The original dish is usually prepared in a clay pot and it is relatively simple to put together. This version is adapted to everyday ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store. One of the adaptations is the replacement of “Dende Oil” (Red Palm Oil) with a combination of coconut oil and spices.
You can buy Dende Oil at specialty groceries or Amazon, but it is highly priced. Also, beware when purchasing Red Palm Oils, try to source it from Brazil or Ecuador. Most of the commercial red palm oils are dangerous to the environment and some wildlife (Save the Orangutans!). Always read the label carefully and try to buy RSPO certified.
A popular side dish to the Moqueca is a manioc flour puree called “pirão”. To make the pirão you will take about 4 cups of the broth from the Moqueca and add one cup of manioc flour. Add everything to a pot and stir together under medium-low heat until you reach a polenta consistency. Many recipes may include tabasco or a high heat pepper to the pirão since the Moqueca itself is pretty mild.
Moqueca is the perfect dish to cook for a crowd and impress your guests with something new and exciting! Serve it over rice with the broth or with pirão.
Moqueca (Brazilian Shrimp and Fish Stew)
- Large Dutch Oven or Clay pot
- 2 lbs Cod or other white firm fish
- 1 lb Shrimp Large (shell and tail removed)
- 3 tomatoes sliced
- 2 red bell pepper sliced, seeds removed
- 1 green bell pepper sliced, seeds removed
- 1 yellow onion sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 can coconut milk unsweetened
- 2 limes juice
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lime sliced
- 3 tbsp cilantro chopped
Dende (red palm oil) Replacement
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- Start by seasoning the cod and shrimp with lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Let is sit (or marinate) for at least 30 minutes. I like to pat the seafood dry with a paper towel before adding the seasoning and lime juice, so you are not leaving all the flavor behind when you transfer to the pot.
- Meanwhile, wash and prep the veggies.
- Prepare the Dende replacement by combining all ingredients together (coconut oil, olive oil, turmeric, cumin, paprika. Add salt to taste. If the coconut oil is too firm you may microwave a few seconds to melt it.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a Dutch Oven on medium high. Add a layer of peppers, tomato and onions. Add cod filet and cilantro.Note: The amount of layers you will need will depend on the size of your pot. My Dutch Oven is pretty wide I only had one layer of cod in between 2 layers of veggies and added the shrimp on top.
- Add another layer of tomato, peppers and onions. Top it with remaining cilantro..
- Add 1 can of coconut milk and the dende replacement mixture plus additional salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high uncovered (about 15 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer covered for additional 15 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and cook uncovered for additional 10 minutes.