Salmon Moqueca

By • May 13, 2010 22 Comments

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Author Notes: Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew. It combines many of my favorite flavors, including tomato, peppers, coconut milk, and cilantro.Some recipes call for cod, striped bass, or snapper, but because these fish are considered “moderate mercury” fish by the National Resources Defense Council, they are best eaten only occasionally. So in this stew, I used wild Alaskan salmon (as it is low in mercury, is sustainably harvested, and let’s not forget about all those awesome omega-3s).
The sweet potato is not a typical moqueca ingredient, but yams are used in Brazilian cooking, so I felt they would fit in just fine. I like how they balance the dish, adding a bit of healthy starch and additional color to what’s already a pretty gorgeous stew. I adore coconut and found that the 3/4 cup of coconut milk in the recipe adds extremely subtle flavor; if you are looking for a more pronounced coconut taste, feel free to add more… - WinnieAb

Food52 Review: If I knew how to pronounce it, I'd be telling everyone I know that they have to try this dish. Although it has a lot of ingredients, this stew comes together very quickly (though I imagine that time would be extended significantly without a food processor or an immersion blender...) and has a great balance of flavors and textures between the tender salmon, firm sweet potato, slightly crunchy peppers and the warming richness of the coconut milk and chili. A great dish all around (particularly with a nice hunk of crusty bread), though be careful with the lime juice; maybe I'm overly sensitive, as I almost always find recipes call for too much lime/lemon juice, but 1/4 cup was a tad too much for me. - solmstea
The Editors

Serves 4-6

Fish and Marinade

  • 1 1/2 pounds 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
  1. Place fish in a shallow non-reactive (non-metal) bowl. Combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, chile pepper, lime juice, oil and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade (or a blender). Process until smooth and pour over fish. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced sweet potato and cook for 10-15 minutes, adding a little water if needed so it doesn’t burn, until softened. Add zucchini, green and red pepper and continue to cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes, again adding water to the pan, if needed. Add water or fish stock and stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add fish and marinade and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Just before serving, stir in green onion and cilantro. Serve alone or over rice.

More Great Recipes: Salmon|Sweet Potatoes|Vegetables|Stews|Fish & Seafood

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Comments (22) Questions (1)


6 months ago za'atar

Delicious! I used fish sauce like others have mentioned and used a full can of coconut milk. This came together really quickly and made surprisingly little mess in the kitchen.


6 months ago Maria

I made this recipe and it turned out great. I substituted cod for salmon, as Kim mentioned, and added a bit of fish sauce. I didn't have a chili on hand, so I used some red pepper flakes instead. I would definitely make this again!


9 months ago Kim

I made this per the recipe and it came out great. Then second time I made it I used cod instead of salmon and added some grated ginger as I've had in other versions of this dish and it was delicious. This recipe is really good as is but it's also a great platform to add your own flavors to.


11 months ago Kinsey

Looks delicious, will make this tonight. I like my salmon medium rare, so plan to add the marinade to the pan w/o the fish, simmer for 10 minutes, then add the fish and go another 5. Any thoughts about that idea?


12 months ago Clara

Made this tonight, slightly tweaked using up some other veg from my fridge, about a teaspoon of fish sauce (no fish stock), and light coconut milk. Served it over brown basmati, but it's so tasty on its own, that I'll have the leftovers tomorrow sans rice. Very yummy!


about 1 year ago Tom Erik Torkeldsen

This is awesome


about 1 year ago Leslie Svanevik

This was delicious! I added the coconut milk to the marinade, and then extra during the cooking process, and added quartered brown mushrooms with the zucchini and peppers. I wish I'd taken some other commenters' advice to have some crusty bread to sop up the juices. This was my first attempt at a fish stew and I can't wait to try more, based on this experience!


over 2 years ago Ham

This was delicious! The marinade was perfect for wild salmon, but I wouldn't be opposed to trying it with a heartier white fish. Also, my cooking time for the fish was closer to 20 minutes (likely because it was a thick fillet). While I personally found it to be best without serving it alongside rice, you'll definitely want a nice crunch baguette to soak up the leftover sauce.


over 2 years ago rsfgs

This is so good. Thanks!


almost 3 years ago lloreen

This was great and will go into the family cookbook for a healthy, quick meal. It is great for stretching out fish for more people too. I made it with Trader Joe's canned roasted tomatoes with chilies, which gave it a nice kick. Highly recommend.


almost 3 years ago abeneplacito

would other firm-fleshed fishes (e.g., cod, halibut) work instead of salmon? or does it need the salmon's fattiness?


about 3 years ago Iris VK

How DO you pronounce it?


over 1 year ago Yrenia Sala



about 3 years ago AmandaO

Wow! Love it. I made it with keta salmon, which was perfect.
I didn't add enough chili, so my end result was a little on the bright side, but still really delicious.
No large skillet I own would have been big enough. I used an All Clad dutch oven.


about 3 years ago DianeS

My husband and I made this dish last week. While we enjoyed it and will make it again, I thought the tomato "sauce" from the marinade overwhelmed the delicate wild salmon. Next time we'll strain the canned tomatoes before adding them to the marinade. I'm sure that different brands of tomatoes use different tomato products as fillers in the cans. We use a local brand of imported organic San Marzano tomatoes that contains a very thick juice/sauce.


about 3 years ago on tray

I made this dish at home as described, and will make it again, however, it demands to be made over an open fire at a Virgina State Park. I think this one is wearthy of open fire/cast iron cooking. I wont ever make a boy scout foil meal while camping. David, Eagle Scout


about 3 years ago zahavah

I bought a fired moqueca pot along the side of the road when I was in Brazil for a wedding. I had no idea what the pot was for, but I brought it home anyway. Fast forward a few years, and, knowing I love to cook, my Brazilian hair stylist told me she made moqueca for dinner. She gave me her recipe and after a little bit of online searching, I realized that I had the pot this stew is traditionally made in. I haven't had a chance to make moqueca, but I'm bookmarking your recipe. Looks amazing!


over 5 years ago NakedBeet

Yum! Perfect for this crazy spring weather.


over 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Wow, Winnie, this looks and sounds fantastic!


over 5 years ago WinnieAb

Thanks Jen!


over 5 years ago cheese1227

Oh, just need some good crusty bread to sop of the sauce for this one....


over 5 years ago WinnieAb

Sounds good to me!