Bell Pepper

Bahian-Style Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

January  7, 2014
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Made with mostly easy-to-find ingredients, this unique combination of coconut milk, vegetables, and white fish turns into an out-of-this-world Brazilian stew. I adapted the recipe from Simply Recipes by substituting annatto oil for paprika and using regular steamed rice for simplicity. (If you can't find the annatto seeds at your grocery store, just add 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika in with the red pepper flakes.) I've also started using adobo seasoning instead of salt when seasoning to taste because it adds a lot more depth of flavor to the dish. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds haddock or cod fillet, cut into large pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from one large lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 14 ounces can of coconut milk
  • Adobo seasoning, to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon annatto seeds (found in Latin section or spice shops)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  1. Place the fish in a bowl and add the minced garlic and lime juice so that the pieces are well coated. Season generously with salt and pepper. Keep chilled while preparing the rest of the stew.
  2. Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and heat on medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the yellow pepper and red pepper flakes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften. Stir in the tomatoes and scallions. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in most of the chopped cilantro, saving some for garnish.
  3. Make a well in the vegetables and add the fish pieces along with the garlic and lime juice. Season with more salt and pepper. Pour in the coconut milk. Bring stew to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Optional: While the stew is simmering, in a separate small saucepan, cook the annatto seeds in the canola oil over medium-low heat until the oil turns bright orange. Discard the seeds and add the annatto oil to the stew.
  5. Add adobo seasoning or salt and pepper to taste (you may need a lot). Garnish with the reserved cilantro and serve with the rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Maeve
  • AniQuadros
  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
  • Tboyd3545

7 Reviews

Tboyd3545 February 23, 2024
amazing! made it twice in one week because I liked it so much. I used chilean sea bass the first time and after eating all the fish, reheated the "soup" the next day and tossed in some Salmon pieces. Thinking I may put some shrimp and scallops in - headed to Whole Foods now:)
Maeve November 8, 2014
I just made this and it was absolutely delicious! I'll definitely come back to this recipe in the future.
Joy H. November 9, 2014
Yay! I'm glad you liked it!
AniQuadros April 17, 2014
I would like to make a comment, I am Brazilian and I have cook Moqueca all my life. I am sorry to say that one of the main ingredients for a Moqueca is the palm oil, without it it is not a Moqueca.Your recipe is amazingly close, you just need to use Palm oil and we do not use Annato seeds at all. Best wishes. Ani.
Joy H. April 17, 2014
Thanks, Ani! I wish I could find palm oil where I live; maybe one day if I do I'll try to make it the authentic way.
rmbarreto May 6, 2023
That's what I was thinking too, that Bahian-style moqueca needs dende oil. There are other styles of moqueca from other places in Brazil that just use olive oil, though. Just not Bahian-style lol I get that it can be hard to find some places, though =/ We only have two stores in the whole city that sell it, even though there are several Brazilian stores here.
rmbarreto May 6, 2023
@ Joy: Amazon is a good place to find it when nearby stores don't carry it. That's what I have to do sometimes since my husband is Baiano and it's an essential ingredient in so many of his favorite foods lol