Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)


As the leaves change color and the temperatures turn cold, hearty meals like soups and stews become staple dinners. I live in the MidWest area of the U.S.

During the pandemic, my family and I needed way to alleviate the isolation that it brought and began to watch television shows that featured beautiful places. One such show was “Below Deck Mediterranean”. It is a reality show which focuses on a yachting crew sailing through various areas in the Mediteranean. While the comedy aspect was great, the cooking was even better, done by various chefs supporting the yacht through different seasons.

Photo by Despina Galani on Unsplash

In particular there was Brazilian chef, Hindrigo Lorran (Kiko), who would create multi course extravagant meals featuring Mediterranean palette cuisine. He also made this lovely fish stew from Brazil. I needed to try it and, after some experimenting to make it easier for a home cook, came up with my humble version of the dish.

My family and I enjoy it as a warm, cozy, filling meal. It provides some intense flavors with the cumin and paprika accompanying the aromatic flavors of garlic, lime and coconut milk. A rich flavor similar to curries.

The cooking process is simple and features slow cooking in a Dutch oven. It’s one of those stews you prepare earlier in the day to marinade and put it in the Dutch oven to cook an hour or two before dinner. We serve the dish with Couscous, which I find works well with the stew. There are also gluten free options as well, such as quinoa or brown rice to absorb the wonderful stew liquid.

Cooking and having a family meal with this dish transports us to the beautiful Mediterranean coast line and the rustic, majestic and colorful architecture.


Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Marinade Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Servings 5


  • Dutch Oven



  • 1 1/2 tbsp Paprika
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Cumin
  • 3 tbsp Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 3/4 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 3/4 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs White fish fillet (cod, halibut, walleye) cut into 1-2 inch slices


  • 1 Marinaded fish
  • 28 oz Canned Chopped Plum Tomatoes
  • 3 cups Coconut Milk (or almond milk with 2-3 tbsp coconut flour)
  • 1 Purple Onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cups Sweet Corn
  • 2 cups Chopped Cilantro


  • Marinade Fish for 2 hrs
  • Prepare Stew
  • Serve over cooked Couscous


Preparing the marinade

The marinade is a very important part of this dish, featuring garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and lots of lime juice. We use cod as the white fish fillet which is not too expensive to serve a family. Any good white fish fillet that is durable like Halibut, or less costly alternatives like walleye will do. The fish just needs to be firm enough to stay together.

Combine the salt, pepper, paprika and cumin together with the garlic and the juice of a lime (or more if you are like me).

Once combined, coat the fish with the marinade and refrigerate for a few hours

Fish marinading

Assembling the Stew

Once you have marinaded the fish, which will take in the cumin and paprika, with the lime juice, behaving like a Ceviche, you can start making the stew in the dutch oven.

To make the stew you will make layers of the fish, similar to the way you layer a lasagna. The layers consist of onions, marinaded fish, corn and tomatoes. For ease of cooking I use canned chopped plum tomatoes.

Chopped Plum tomatoes, purple onion, cilantro, corn and coconut milk (we use almond milk with coconut flour added) for the stew.

After making all the layers with the fish, onion, corn and tomatoes, next add the cilantro and coconut milk (or almond milk with coconut flour like we do) as well as a salt and pepper.

Cover the Dutch oven and bring the mixture to medium heat, once at medium heat, stir the mixture and lower the temperature to low and cook for 45 minutes to one hour.

While the stew is cooking you can make the Couscous or other grain for the bed of the stew.

Once the stew is cooked, serve with a chilled white wine.

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