This Brazilian seafood stew is my version of a dish my husband became obsessed with while traveling in Northern Brazil. Obsessed as in eating 3 days in a row for lunch and dinner…
Brazilians call it “moqueca“, and it is most common in the Northern State of Bahia. It is traditionally made of various seafood, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and cilantro in a coconut broth. The Bahian version typically includes palm oil (dende oil), a highly controversial product not only health-wise but ethically.
My version is made with ingredients I can easily find. I’ve also replaced the palm oil with olive oil. It’s simple yet flavorful. And most importantly, it gets two thumbs up from my best customer…
This Brazilian seafood stew recipe includes a combination of shrimp and white fish. I like to use a flaky fish like cod, halibut, but if all I have on hand is tilapia, that works as well. You can really use any combination of seafood you like. Just keep the proportions the same (about 1.5 lbs of seafood).
Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your palate. Start with 1/4 tsp if you like it mild, or omit altogether. It will still be a tasty stew.
I prefer to use light coconut milk to limit the amount of saturated fat and calories. It provides enough creaminess in my opinion.
How to make
Start by marinating the seafood in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. You don’t want to let it sit for too long or the lime juice will “cook” the fish. The time it takes you to prepare the rest of the ingredients should be just about right.
Next, sauté onions and bell peppers in olive oil. Add garlic and spices and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes, scallions and salt and let them soften a bit.
Then, nestle the fish between the vegetables and pour the coconut milk on top. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for about 6 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through. Don’t overcook it or the shrimp will get tough. Stir in fresh cilantro and serve!
Serve with brown rice or a nice crusty whole grain bread.
Other recipes you might like:
Brazilian seafood stew
- 1 lb white fish fillets such as halibut, cod, tilapia, mahi mahi cut into 2-inch pieces
- 8 oz large shrimp (16-20 count per lb), shelled & cleaned
- 3 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced, divided.
- 3/4 tsp salt divided
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion sliced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes diced
- 2 scallions
- 1 can light coconut milk (13.5 oz can)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- Place the fish and shrimp in a medium-size bowl and toss with the lime juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, half of the garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the black pepper. Allow to marinate as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the bell peppers and cook until they have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add remaining garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Then, stir in the tomatoes and the scallions and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Nestle the fish into the vegetable mixture, then pour the coconut milk over it. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the shrimp is cooked through and the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 6 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro and add more red pepper flakes, if desired.
- The stew will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.