Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca de Peixe)

Traditionally known as Moqueca de Peixe or Brazilian Fish Stew, you will love this vibrant fish stew. It’s bright, flavourful, and ready in less than 30 minutes. Made in one pot, this low-carb, Keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, and gluten-free stew makes for the perfect dinner that is great for both busy weeknights or for entertaining guests.

You don’t believe how simple it is to make this fish stew. It is so fragrant and surprisingly only requires a few kitchen staples. I love making this stew as it’s super comforting despite coming together in next to no time. It’s a staple once the cooler weather comes around but trust me, you’ll want to make this flavourful fish stew year round!

Here are more fish recipes to try: Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia Recipe, Easy Broiled Salmon Recipe, and Garlic Butter Cod Fish Recipe.

A pot of Brazilian fish stew with plates beside it.

I love cooking stew for dinner because it cooks up without a lot of hands-on cooking. Another stew for easy weeknights, I recommend is my Cabbage and Sausage Stew, Instant Pot Chicken Stew, Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe, and my Healthier Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe.

What is moqueca?

Moqueca is a Brazillian Fish stew that is made with white fish, coconut milk, tomatoes, and peppers. Lime and cilantro are usually added to brighten the stew. Traditionally, moquecas are cooked in clay pots, however, if you don’t have one, a Dutch oven is perfect for this stew as they heat evenly and maintain heat well.

There are two types of Moqueca in Brazil from two different states in Brazil. One is from Bahia (in the northeast of the country) called Moqueca Baiana. The other one is from Espirito Santo (in southeastern Brazil) called Moqueca Capixaba. The difference between them is the Moqueca Baiana uses palm oil and coconut milk and Moqueca Capixaba uses olive oil and tomato broth.

For this recipe I used coconut milk, but I replaced palm oil for olive oil just because I couldn’t find palm oil easily where I live here in Canada.

How to make Brazilian fish stew (Moqueca de Peixe)

Ingredients

  • Cod fish — or another firm white fish, like mahi mahi or sea bass. Make sure that the pin bones are removed as it’s a choking hazard. Thick cuts are ideal. Try to buy fillets that are similar in size so they cook evenly.
  • Lime juice — fresh lime juice is best as bottled lime juice doesn’t taste as bright.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil — or neutral oil of your choice.
  • Garlic cloves — finely minced the garlic cloves.
  • Peppers — you’ll need hot pepper, green pepper bell pepper, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper. They add a beautiful pop of colour on top of flavour. Skip the hot pepper if you’d like this to be less spicy.
  • Diced tomatoes — all you need is a can. It’s much more convenient than dicing your own. You’ll need to liquid in the can as well.
  • Onion — you can use white or yellow onion for this Brazilian fish stew.
  • Fresh herbs — I use cilantro and parsley. They add a fresh bright flavour to the stew.
  • Coriander — this adds a strong fresh citrus taste.
  • Coconut milk — you want the coconut milk that comes in a can, in full-fat, and not the milk in the refrigerated section.
  • Tomato paste — this adds flavour and thickens the stew as well.

Ingredients needed to make moqueca de peixe.

Instructions

Prepare the Fish

  • Place fish in a large glass bowl and season with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Add the Ingredients

  • In a large Dutch oven pot (or clay pot), add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and hot pepper and cook for about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Then, add bell peppers and sliced onions.
  • Add the fish fillets and cilantro, parsley, and coriander on top. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper again.

Simmer the Brazilian Fish Stew

  • Pour the coconut milk into the Dutch oven and then add the tomato paste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Then cover, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the onions are tender and the fish are fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook the fish.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and parsley.

Overhead view of a pot of Brazilian fish stew.

How long does this stew last?

This Brazilian fish stew stores really well. As long as you keep it in an airtight container, you can keep this refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.

Recipe tips

  • Once you cover the Dutch oven and simmer the stew, avoid stirring the stew to prevent the fish from breaking apart.
  • This stew has a short simmering time. If you overcook the stew, the fish will fall apart and taste tough.
  • Feel free to use frozen fillets for this fish stew. Simply thaw them fully before adding them to the Dutch oven.

A pot of Brazilian fish stew.

What does moqueca taste like?

Brazilian fish stew has a sweet flavour with hints of nuttiness from the oil and coconut. It also tastes light and bright from the lime juice, fresh cilantro, and parsley. The cod fish tastes mild so you don’t have to worry about the stew tasting fishy.

What can you serve with Brazilian fish stew?

You could serve this Brazilian fish stew with any side of rice or salad. Here are some on Primavera Kitchen that I think you would love:

  • Arugula Blackberry Salad: This arugula blackberry salad has everything you want in a light salad. With a refreshing vinaigrette, plump blackberries, and peppery arugula.
  • Carrot Quinoa Salad: This quinoa salad is filled with shredded carrots, red onions, bell pepper, and olives. It is gluten-free, vegan, healthy, and very flavourful too.
  • Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Salad: Simple and delicious, this Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Salad is the perfect crisp green salad to go with your next meal!
  • Rice with Mushroom and Asparagus: It’s a quick and easy rice recipe that uses veggies, and fresh parsley, and feta for garnishing.
overhead view of Dutch Oven containing fish stew

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca de Peixe)

Traditionally known as Moqueca de Peixe or Brazilian Fish Stew, you will love this vibrant fish stew. It's bright, flavourful, and ready in less than 30 minutes. Made in one pot, this low-carb, Keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, and gluten-free stew makes for the perfect dinner that is great for both busy weeknights or for entertaining guests.
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cod fish (or other firm white fish, like mahi mahi or sea bass) - , rinsed and pin bones removed.
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil - divided
  • 3 garlic cloves - minced
  • 1 hot pepper - finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes - (from a can)
  • 1 green bell pepper - seeded and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper - seeded and sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper - seeded and sliced
  • 1 medium white/yellow onion - sliced
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro - chopped
  • 1 small bunch of parsley - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 14 ounce coconut milk can
  • 1 ½ tbsp tomato paste

Instructions

  • Place fish in a large glass bowl and season with salt, pepper and lime juice. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  • In a large Dutch oven pot (or clay pot), add 2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and hot pepper and cook for about 1 minute.
  • Spread diced tomatoes on the bottom of the pot.
  • Then, add bell peppers and sliced onions.
  • Add the fish fillets and cilantro, parsley and coriander on top. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper again.
  • Pour the coconut milk and add tomato paste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then cover, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the onions are tender and the fish are fully cooked.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and parsley. Serve with rice and salad.
Serving: 1/4, Calories: 368kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Sodium: 457mg, Potassium: 930mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g

If you make this recipe, follow @primaverakitchen on Instagram, snap a photo and hashtag it #primaverakitchen. I'd love to see what you're making!

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titled photo collage (and shown): Fish Stew