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Brazilian Seafood Stew – Moqueca Baiana

Brazilian Seafood Stew – Moqueca Baiana

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Moqueca Baiana, traditional Brazilian Seafood Stew, lives up to its surroundings with bold flavors and a bright yellow color.

When traveling through Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we found that the food was just as colorful as the scenery.

You can’t go far without hearing the sound of music or people laughing, and you rarely find people wearing drab colors.

Moqueca Baiana - Brazilian fish stew

We were told that in Brazil, the first lesson you learn is to talk, then to walk. Next you learn to dance the Samba, and then to make rice.

I am sure that learning to make Moqueca is not far behind.  (The stew is pictured here with banana farofa, a simple common Brazilian side dish made with manioc flour) and of course, rice. 

A Word About Palm Oil

The yellow color in this dish comes from the use of Palm Oil in traditional recipes. While the ingredient is common in Brazil, its cultivation and harvesting has been known to cause extensive environmental problems. This includes fires and other issues significantly impacting endangered wildlife. 

You can substitute Palm Oil with rapeseed oil, sunflower oil or soy bean oil. Coconut Oil can be used and will add a pleasant nutty flavor to the dish (which is what we suggest in the recipe).

To obtain the beautiful vibrant yellow color, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of a safe yellow (amarillo) powder food colorant, used commonly in recipes around the world.

Here are some additional Brazilian recipes you might enjoy:

Yield: 6 Servings

Moqueca Baiana - Brazilian Seafood Stew

Moqueca Baiana

Moqueca Baiana - Traditional Brazilian Seafood Stew in a Coconut Milk Broth

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 2 Cups (360 g) White Rice
  • 3 Cloves Garlic - minced
  • 1 Teaspoon (2 g) Cumin Powder
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Pounds (680 g) of deboned White Fish Fillets (such as tilapia, halibut or snapper) cut into large pieces
  • 1 Onion - diced
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Coconut Oil
  • 1 Cup (237 ml) Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Cup (118 ml) Fish Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons (28 g) Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon (1 g) Powdered Yellow Food Colorant (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the fish is a non-reactive bowl and add the cumin and juice of one lime. Salt and pepper lightly, mix and then set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  2. Wash the rice in cold water strainer until the water runs clear.
  3. Place the garlic in a frying pan over medium heat with the olive oil and sauté until it is golden brown.
  4. Add the rice and sauté for about 4 minutes.
  5. Add 4 cups (946 ml) of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through (approximately 25 minutes).
  6. Cut the peppers into rings and remove the seeds and white membrane.
  7. Add the coconut oil to a fry pan with the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the peppers and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the fish, stock, tomato paste, yellow food colorant, and the coconut milk.
  9. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to heat to a simmer. Simmer until the fish is cooked all the way through (approximately 20 minutes).
  10. Serve with the rice and garnish with fresh lime wedges and cilantro.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 462Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 55mgSodium 94mgCarbohydrates 57gFiber 2.1gSugar 4.8gProtein 28g

Considering a visit to Rio de Janiero? Here are some additional articles that may help plan or inspire a visit.

Thank you to our friends at Cook in Rio for introducing us to this dish.

Olivia @ Olivia's Cuisine

Thursday 17th of September 2015

Jen, I'm so happy I stumbled upon your blog today. I'm Brazilian (born and raised. Have been in the US for only 5 years!) and it makes me so happy to see authentic Brazilian recipes making the blogs out there! :) ❤️


Sunday 20th of September 2015

Thanks Olivia! We really enjoyed our time in Brazil and the food!


Thursday 17th of September 2015

I love stew! The recipe looks good and yummy! I can't wait to try it out


Sunday 20th of September 2015

You really should try it - I'd love to hear how you like it if you do.

Molly Kumar

Tuesday 15th of September 2015

I've never had a brazilian fish stew and this looks perfect for autumn.


Wednesday 16th of September 2015

Yes I agree - it would be wonderful on a cool autumn evening.

Taylor | Perpetually Hungry

Monday 14th of September 2015

Wow - this sounds SO good. Such a bright and fun dish!


Monday 14th of September 2015

Thanks Taylor - it was nice to find a light bright dish while I was in Brazil - the food tended to be really good but heavy. Thanks for the comment!

evan kristine

Sunday 13th of September 2015

this looks really delicious and interesting! i am quite intriqued at how the bananas go along with this dish!


Monday 14th of September 2015

It's a very typical side dish in Brazil. They eat a version of fried cassava, made with yucca, with most meals. In this case cassava with banana.

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