Salmon Moqueca

May 13, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

This recipe is featured in the story, 14 Cozy, Tomatoey Braises to Warm Your Stove Now Through March, sponsored by Muir Glen.
The Editors

Serves: 4 to 6


Fish and Marinade

  • 1 1/2 pounds wild salmon fillets
  • 1 28-ounce 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
In This Recipe


Fish and Marinade

  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

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced sweet potato and cook for 10 to 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 to 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 to 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:
Soup|Stew|South American|Green Onion/Scallion|Lime Juice|Potato|Salmon|Seafood|Vegetable|Milk/Cream|Chile Pepper|Cilantro

Reviews (31) Questions (2)

31 Reviews

fearlessem March 15, 2019
Made this tonight and it was delicious -- whether it is a "real" moqueca or not!! I used light coconut milk and it was plenty rich. I used 2 pounds of salmon instead of 1.5, but wish I hadn't as I didn't have quite enough sauce for the leftover portions. I used one juicy lime in the marinade, and one more squeezed on top at the end, and that felt about right. I actually wish I had left the seeds in my serrano as there wasn't much heat from just one de-seeded pepper in this volume of a dish. This is a keeper recipe for me -- thank you!!
Camila February 4, 2019
Sorry, but this has nothing to do with a real Brasilian MOQUECA (mo-cake-a). A real moqueca must have DENDE oil, (red palm oil), which is what gives it the unique flavour; also, the ONLY vegetables should be red and green peppers, tomatoes, yellow onions, garlic, cilantro, and a small fresh red chili. I always make it with large shelled shrimp, and use at least 2 cans of coconut milk for 2 pounds of shrimp. Let's stop completely changing a dish and then still calling it the same name,
Michel October 29, 2018
This was delicious. Can’t wait to have the leftovers. Speaking of that, has anyone tried freezing this? We’re a small family with a picky eater so there’s a lot of leftover!
Amberdesign January 5, 2018
Highly recommend this recipe, made exactly as written, it's even better than you think it will be. My whole family loved it. Just wish I could pronounce the name, I will have to give it a nickname.
elida September 17, 2017
It may be good but not brazilian at all. Yams would never go into a moqueca just because it's a brazilian ingredient, as much as you wouldn't put oranges in an apple pie just because there are oranges in Florida. Tilapia could do just fine if you are watching for mercury.
julieta August 10, 2016
This can be good but is very far from a true moqueca. It can be a Thai dishe or something but never moqueca. Julieta Connolly from Brasil
Glendi July 5, 2016
Well, I finally made this. I knew it would be good. Couldn't find a yam easily as I am vacationing in Italy and it's out of season, so used last of a hubbard squash and added a Tablespoon of honey. Absolutely yummy but eating it as soup. why not?
Chloroph May 3, 2016
OMG - This came out amazing! I accidentally missed the step where you put the marinade ingredients in a blender - didn't matter - it tasted great and the little pieces of tomato and onion were super juicy. I followed a fellow cook's suggestion and added a handful of finely minced fresh ginger at the end. A little extra lime and coconut milk (we love these flavors). So bright and healthy, will definitely make again!
Uyen P. December 20, 2015
Wowzer! A very flavorful dish. Juice from one lime was enough for me. The coconut milk with a Tsp of fish sauce added complexity to the taste, yet it is overall a very well balanced dish. A favorite and a repeat for my family. WinneAb, my belly and tastebuds thank you for posting this recipe!
za'atar March 4, 2015
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.
Maria February 20, 2015
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!
Kim December 9, 2014
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.
Kinsey October 4, 2014
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?
Clara September 19, 2014
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!
Tom E. August 27, 2014
This is awesome
Leslie S. July 21, 2014
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!
Ham February 26, 2013
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.
rsfgs January 2, 2013
This is so good. Thanks!
lloreen November 19, 2012
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.
abeneplacito September 2, 2012
would other firm-fleshed fishes (e.g., cod, halibut) work instead of salmon? or does it need the salmon's fattiness?