The first time I tried moqueca in Brazil, and I think the only time that I have eaten it at a restaurant here, was quite a long time ago at the beach with my husband. He had hyped-up this dish like crazy and told me how much I was going to love it. Unfortunately when our moqueca arrived we were both disappointed and I did not fall in love with it. The restaurant was a tourist trap and I did not get to experience this absolutely delicious dish. Instead, I learned to love this dish when my husband made it for me back in the USA. I couldn’t get enough of it and wanted to eat it almost all the time. While living in Boston we found a wonderful moqueca restaurant (Muqueca Restaurant, Cambridge MA) and ate there several times. It was so delicious that we kept wanting to go back for more.
So, Brazil hasn’t yet showed me the best of their moqueca but believe me this is an amazing dish and if you get the chance to try it while in Brazil definitely jump on the opportunity. If you are a fish lover like me you will not be disappointed.
Moqueca is a dish traditionally from the northern states of Espirito Santo and Bahia. It is a seafood ragout or stew made with any combination of fish and shell fish.There are countless recipes for moqueca and everyone has their own favorite recipe. Moqueca is a dish that was influenced by the Brazilian native indian, African, and Portuguese cuisines. The name comes from the native indian word POKEKAS. Traditionally, moqueca is slow cooked in a clay pot known as the ‘capixaba‘. Moqueca that is cooked in the clay pot is called ‘moqueca capixaba‘. The capixaba is a handmade pot made from black clay and mangrove tree sap and adds a beautiful flavor to the moqueca.
Some asides about this recipe and what to eat moqueca with:
- Moqueca is traditionally made with cilantro, but since there are some people who absolutely hate the taste of cilantro (my husband) you do not need to use it. I always substitute cilantro with parsley and it works perfectly.
- This dish can be made with ANY type of fish. I generally use a simple white fish like tilapia and shrimp. But feel free to use any fish you have at home or would like to use instead!
- Make sure that the coconut is not too strong. You want to have an equal blend of tomato and coconut.
- Once the fish has been added DO NOT STIR.
- I eat moqueca with rice and farofa. I make a very simple farofa usually just with onions, but again, any farofa recipe works perfectly.
- Most importantly: have fun with this recipe!
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5tbsp tempero caseiro (substitute for onions & garlic)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
16oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
8oz can coconut milk
500g/1lb tilapia, or other mild white fish
1 cup parsley or cilantro
1-2 tbsp chili flakes
Prepare all of the vegetables: chop the peppers, onions, garlic, and parsley or cilantro (if using tempero caseiro measure required quantity). Place a the capixaba, clay pot, or cast iron pan over medium heat and warm-up the olive oil. When oil is warm add the onions and garlic (or tempero caseiro). Sauté until fragrant, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the pepper and sauté for another 6-8 minutes or until slightly tender. Add the crushed or diced tomatoes and leave to simmer with the lid off for approximately 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stir well, and bring to a boil. Add the salt, chili flakes, and half of the parsley or cilantro to taste (you do not want the dish to be too spicy). Lower heat and keep mixture at a low boil. Prepare the shrimp and tilapia; take off the shrimp tails and cut tilapia into medium sized chunks. After mixture has boiled for approximately 10 minutes add the fish. Once the fish has been added do not stir the mixture anymore. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add the remaining parsley or cilantro. Serve with rice and farofa!
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