Make Ahead

Salmon Moqueca

May 13, 2010
20 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
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 —WinnieAb

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Fish and Marinade
  2. 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.
  1. For the Stew
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lyn rosoff
    lyn rosoff
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • Jenn
  • Melusine
I grew up in a restaurant family (my parents owned the now closed Quilted Giraffe in NYC) and I've always loved to cook. My interest in the connection between food and health led me to pursue a graduate degree in naturopathic medicine. I don't practice medicine anymore; I have a blog called Healthy Green Kitchen that I started in May of 2009 and I wrote a book called One Simple Change that will be published in January, 2014. I live in upstate New York with my family and many pets.

46 Reviews

Melusine September 13, 2023
Holy @($)# is this good soup! I always have roasted onions and garlic** on hand, and used the more traditional peppers - roasted them, too, along with the red Serrano pepper. I am not a big cilantro fan, but my husband is, so I didn’t skimp.

I was looking for something special to send my husband off to Juba for a few weeks and had everything I needed - even some crusty baguettes in the freezer and leftover rice in the fridge. Took the gamble - this will now appear regularly on our dinner table.

**I double the amount of garlic a recipe calls for when I use roasted garlic.
Sheltie_Mom_4ever April 20, 2023
People have left comments that this dish is not authentic, but I don’t care because it’s so, so delicious!! I followed the recipe exactly and served over jasmine rice. I couldn’t get enough! So comforting. I love the mix of salmon with the tomato-base stew. The sweet potatoes was a brilliant addition.
lyn R. March 11, 2022
This is a great recipe. I had tons of compliments and everyone asked for the recipe. I made the sauce and marinated the salmon the night before, so its quite easy to serve for a dinner party. I followed the recipe exactly.
arun October 14, 2021
Jessamin September 27, 2021
Followed this recipe to a T, and my partner and I absolutely loved it. It was great day of, but somehow 700x better the next day. Sublime. Simple and hearty and yet something I'd be happy to shell out for in a nice restaurant. Will be revisiting this in the coming winter.
Rebecca F. January 9, 2021
We *really* enjoyed this dish. We couldn't get zucchini in our area, so we used brussels sprouts. Still delicious!
Sabine G. December 10, 2020
Is the skin left on? Should I cut the filet? Just preparing for dinner tonight! thanks for any feedback!
Michel December 10, 2020
I remove the skin and cut the filets into large chucks. It’s worth noting that this is excellent with all kinds of seafood. I’ve made it with cod, shrimp and scallops. It all turned out great. You just have to be careful with fish like cod that it doesn’t flake too much. Bon appétit
Sabine G. December 10, 2020
Thank you so much! I was leaning towards that but wasn't sure. We live in the PNW and we have a lovely King salmon filet just waiting for this! Thankful for having a Dad who is crazy about fishing tonight!
NXL March 13, 2020
This is definitely going on my favorites list ! Left in the Serrano seeds and the spice levels were perfect for us. Used a whole can of coconut milk. For prettier presentation , I put the rice on one side of a shallow bowl , ladled the stew on the other and put a whole salmon filet on top.
barbara February 15, 2020
wow - if you eat a lot of salmon and are looking for something new to prepare other than the numerous mundane , run of the mill recipes- give your taste buds a treat this is a spectacular and incredibly delicious dish-definitely a 5 star recipe
Jenn December 6, 2019
I am surprised this recipe doesn’t have a higher rating. This dish has become a staple meal for us. We love that we can adjust how spicy it is and what vegetables we toss in at whim. We usually go a little spicier by adding some chili powder and paprika. I like to throw a Yukon gold in and only half the sweet potato. For the rice we love doing a cauliflower rice, or traditional rice or just some nice baguette to dunk in and soak it up. The whole thing comes together so quickly and easily. I blend up the marinade ingredients and then take out the blade and throw the fish in the blender container and put the whole thing in the fridge saving another dish to clean. I am sure traditional moqueca is amazing, I look forward to trying it some time, but in the meantime this is a really fantastic weeknight meal or even a dish I make when we have friends join us for dinner.
Sixblade K. June 17, 2019
May not be traditional, but it was easy to make and delicious. Gonna try it again with other types of fish.
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!
Michel December 10, 2020
Happy to report that this is now a favourite for the formerly picky eater
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!