Weeknights with Jenny

Salmon Moqueca

by • July 9, 2012 26 Comments

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Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Salmon Moqeca


When I brought my leftovers to work one day and told my colleague H, who inquired about what I would be re-heating, that I had made Salmon Moqueca she immediately announced, “Oh it won’t be any good.”

Another person might have decided to be insulted -- especially the likes of us for whom lunch is the best part of the day and are not particularly pleased to have their quiet ritual with a white bowl and a salt shaker marred by actual conversations with their colleagues, particularly ones in which the food in question is denounced -- but with H, I take such comments in stride. 

I knew what she was really doing was asking for a hearty spoonful for her own bowl, because you can see just by looking at this dish, a Brazilian seafood stew, that it is divine. You know how there are weeknight dishes that you make that are perfectly, pleasingly good? That’s fine, right? And then there are those that are restaurant-quality delicious, so inspired, so flavorful, that your entire family sort of stares at you with a bit of awe, unaware of how simple it all was? 

First, start with good salmon. I know you knew that. Then puree up your marinade, which is going to work just fine sitting for 30 minutes while you cook up your stew. (I used a cayenne pepper from my freezer from last summer FYI. Do as you like.)

Don’t get mad because I am asking you to use sweet potatoes in July. You can find some. The mix of sweet potatoes with salmon is going to be uncanny and then you will stop cursing me and go back later to your mulberries or whatever seasonal thing you want. I did not include bell peppers because they make me very angry. I used more potatoes and zucchini instead. To each cook her own. 

Do you see how this is all simmering very quietly and carefully as you continue to add things one by one? (I did not have fish stock so I used water.)

Now it is time to add the fish, which you cut up into bite sized chunks as you toss it into the stew. If you have no green onion, who cares?, but you do want the cilantro. Unless you hate it. There is something really complex and rich and exciting about all these flavors – the sweet coconut and the potatoes with the slap in the face of cilantro and a bit of hot pepper, all dancing around your fish – that you are going to love. Put it over rice for a one-bowl meal. Reheat at work, first taking the fish out (so it won’t overcook and to not create the odor of fish in the office, if there is anyone there whose opinion you care about) and stirring it in after you have nuked. 

As it turns out, moqueca is also common in Liberia, where H grew up, where it is cooked with palm oil. She told me once when she landed in Brazil, she could smell this dish cooking and it reminded her of home. She dissed my version before tasting it, because she assumed, as most of us do concerning childhood dishes, that an outsider’s version will disappoint.  Mine didn’t take her to Africa, perhaps, as only mom’s can. But H conceded, it was really damn good. She wanted more. Too bad. I ate it all. 


Salmon Moqueca by WinnieAB

Serves 4-6

Fish and Marinade:

1 1/2 pound wild salmon fillets
28 oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes, undrained
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 Serrano chile pepper, stemmed and cut in half (use the seeds, too, if you want your stew to be pretty spicy)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

For the Stew:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup water (or fish stock)
3/4 cup organic whole coconut milk
1/2 cup minced green onion (bottom parts only), for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photo by James Ransom

Topics: What to Cook, Weeknight Cooking, Dinner, Faster, Salmon

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Comments (26)


over 2 years ago Candi

I made this last night. It was delicious! Next time I am going to add shrimp.


about 3 years ago Shalini

Jenny, I'm going to try this this week. I love red peppers, but we almost never use green! And Winne, congratulations!


about 3 years ago Jestei

or none. your call!


about 3 years ago Phoov

Used frozen salmon from Costco and it turned out great. Hubby loved it. Replaces my old fish stew recipe which used a white fish. Salmon is a much healthier alternative.
Used a red and a yellow bell. Not a big green fan. Thought 2 bells would be too much, but with the milder bells that was not the case.
Easily 6 servings. I made it for just two of us and it was just as good or better the next day. Popped the remainder into the freezer.


about 3 years ago Jestei

sounds fantastic


about 3 years ago eichenholz

I didn't use any water and added a splash of fish sauce when I added the coconut milk. It was beyond delish!! Used thick pieces of salmon and left them big, really pretty as well as wonderful.


about 3 years ago Jestei

i love the idea of fish sauce. not too salty?


about 3 years ago NYNCtg

I just made this for supper. Thank you. My husband says he is looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow and that is the highest praise he gives any dish.


about 3 years ago Jestei

fantastic! remind him not to nuke the fish, but rather to mix it in.


about 3 years ago bonbonmarie

Relieved to hear I am not the only one who has to figure out a response to coworker's comments about my lunches! Darn it, it's not "health food", it's just real food! Anyways, I cannot wait to try this recipe. Thanks!


about 3 years ago Jestei

or just glare. make this soon!


about 3 years ago Hoots

"I did not include bell peppers because they make me very angry."

A woman after my own heart!


about 3 years ago Jestei

i've got a pepper issue. what can i say.


about 3 years ago WinnieAb

How cool is this? A bit late on the uptake here, but thanks so much for featuring this recipe, Jenny.
Reminds me that I have not made this in forever...need to change that soon!


about 3 years ago Jestei

you must. it is so divine. i can't wait to make it again


about 3 years ago mcs3000

Happy to see this is one of @winneab's recipes. Discovered her blog earlier this year (yes, last person on the planet to do so) and love it.


about 3 years ago Jestei

she is so awesome


about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Tell H, I feel her...! Well used to when I lived abroad. That bowl looks divine....


about 3 years ago Jestei

i hope you like it. it is delicious, like your recipes :)


about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Why do red peppers make you very angry? Inquiring minds!


about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

I think I found the answer: http://food52.com/blog...

Sorry to butt into this thread, but, Merrill, how's Clara? And we need an updated picture, stat.


about 3 years ago Jestei

It is true. She nailed it. Also more Clara YES.


about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hope this comment registers, have had a problem with bad gateway message. Anyway, Jenny this is wonderful, so happy to see one of Winnie's delicious recipes featured, she has so many amazing and delicious recipes. I love fish stew and this sounds so tasty and I can imagine subbing other types of fish for the salmon as well. I love the spicy broth and the sweet potato and coconut milk really make this stand out. Always look forward to your posts every Monday.


about 3 years ago Jestei

I think you will really like this. Sorry for the message issue I encounter it from time to time too but I am always so happy to read your comments.


about 3 years ago gt9

Obrigado Jenny. Headed to the fish monger now. Needed some inspiration after non stop grilling.


about 3 years ago Jestei

Did you try it?