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Natalie's Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew)

Natalie's moqueca (Brazilian seafood stew)
Vidya Rao/TODAY


  • 2 1/2 pounds seafood (I like to use more firm fish like 1 pound halibut, ¾ pound med shrimp, ¾ pound scallops)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Stew
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 8-ounce jar clam juice
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons dende oil (peanut oil can substitute)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Chef notes

    Moqueca is like Brazil's version of chowder or a bouillabaisse. This is a recipe that originates from the northeastern state of Brazil called Bahia, but it is now widely found throughout the country and is a signature Brazilian dish.


    Mix marinade ingredients and marinate the seafood, refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes.

    Vidya Rao/TODAY

    In a Dutch oven pot or cast iron skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon dende oil and add onions and garlic. Sautee for about 3 minutes until translucent, then add tomatoes, red and green peppers.  Sautee another 3 minutes until softened.

    Separately in another skillet, melt the butter until fully liquid then add the flour and whisk to create a roux, then add 2 cups coconut milk. Whisk until thickened.  Add clam juice (if you don’t like a fishy taste you can substitute with chicken stock). Stir and keep on low heat.  This is the base for your stew, so let it simmer and stir occasionally.

    Remove ½ of the tomato, pepper, onion, mixture and add ½ cup cilantro (rest will be used to garnish) and pulse in a blender or food processor so it’s still somewhat chunky.

    Add fish mixture to the remaining tomato mixture in the pan, and add another tablespoon of dende oil to keep the fish from sticking. Cook for 2 minutes and add the blended vegetable mix.  Now top with your coconut milk mix and let simmer on low for another 3 minutes or so to ensure fish is cooked through.  Add the thinly chopped red/green pepper you reserved. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, to taste, and dash of red pepper. When fish is cooked through, serve in a thick ceramic terrine or earthenware soup bowl. Top with cilantro and serve with coconutty rice.