Moqueca Baiana (Brazilian Seafood Stew)

Moqueca is a fitting representation of Brazil’s diverse culinary background. There are several variations of this dish today, but Moqueca Baiana, from the Northeast state of Bahia, is one of the most interesting reflection of the traditions embedded in Brazilian cuisine.

Originally a seafood stew prepared by the native people of Brazil, Moqueca has taken on a new form over the past few hundred years. Some signature flavors of today’s Moqueca Baiana recipe include coconut milk, first introduced by Portuguese colonists who planted coconut trees as they removed other trees for wood, and palm oil, brought over by African slaves as part of the sugarcane trade.

Although palm oil contains some health benefits, there are ecological concerns with its production. I prefer to use Nutiva palm oil, which is certified organic and fair trade, and they ensure that no deforestation or habitat destruction results from the growing and harvesting processes. We also pop our popcorn in this oil, which gives it a rich, buttery flavor.

Moqueca Baiana - Brazilian Seafood Stew (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

1 lb firm white fish (cod, sea bass, whiting), cut into 1″ chunks
juice of two limes (about 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp palm oil
1 medium onion, cut into slices
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced into rings
1 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced into rings
1/2 lb raw shrimp
1 (13.5oz) can coconut milk
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a non-reactive bowl, combine the fish and lime juice; cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the dish.

2. In a deep skillet, warm the coconut oil and palm oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until very soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cumin, salt, and garlic; saute until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Layer the tomato and bell pepper slices, then add the shrimp, coconut milk, the fish, and half of the lime juice. Scatter with parsley, cover, and reduce heat to med/low.

3. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, the fish is cooked through, and the shrimp is pink and curled, about 10-15 minutes; as the food cooks, shake and jostle the pan every few minutes to mix the sauce and vegetables. Scatter with the cilantro, taste and add salt if desired, then serve.

20 thoughts on “Moqueca Baiana (Brazilian Seafood Stew)

  1. This one is going on the list for sure.
    For the coconut oil that you use – does it have a coconut flavor that helps define the dish? I wonder because I have two types, one that is ‘coconutty’ and one that is expeller pressed so no strong coconut flavor.
    Thanks as always :)

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  2. I had a version of this at a local Brazilian steakhouse that serves AYCE multiple just grilled meats on long sword like skewers, that staff cuts for you. In the buffet part of the “Brazilian experience’ they served cheeses, bread, rice, soups, tons of salad and this type of seafood coconut stew. It was so delicious. I ended up having about half seafood stew and half Brazilian cut meats each time I refilled my dish. Thanks for the recipe. Simply can’t wait to try. Great for those who practice seafood Friday during Lent :)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow this looks so good. I love your blog.

    You eat popcorn? I’ve just started eating the Perfect Health Diet way (I have the ancestral table and paleo takeout and I love them btw). But I (and my kids) miss popcorn.. you think it’s ok to eat? How often? You do a 80/20 approach?

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  4. This must smell wonderful! I used to eat this at a small beach shack whenever I was in São Luís Brasil, but had forgotten its name. You have just reminded me. Obrigado! Pinned and on my “to make” list

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  5. A little confused about the recipe. Specifically about the lime juice. In #1 I combined the fish and lime juice. I used all the lime juice. because the ingredients did not specify, “divided.”
    Then in #2 it says to add half of the lime juice–is this half of the juice that is left in the bowl where it was sitting with the fish?
    I just dumped everything in and I think it may need more than 2 TBSP of lime juice. I may have found it a little bland because I left out the garlic though.
    Thanks for another great recipe.

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    1. Hi Laura, thanks for the feedback! In #2 of the recipe, I meant to use half of the lime juice marinade – I’ve updated the wording in the recipe, thanks for the catch! I found that adding the entire marinade to the pot made the dish a bit too sour, so I think a half portion is the perfect balance. :)

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  6. I have tried over and over to copy and paste this recipe which I very much wish to try into an rtf format and over and over again I am told I don’t have permission to do this. What’s going on, please?

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