This cozy vegetarian stew—laden with jammy-yolked eggs wrapped in a broth of coconut milk, tomatoes, and lime—is perfect for nights when you want something warming and comforting yet still light and bright in flavor. It’s inspired by Bahian moqueca, a rich, coconut-based seafood stew that’s common in the northeastern part of Brazil.
Recipes for moqueca vary throughout the region and country: some versions call for a mix of firm-fleshed white fish and shrimp or prawns, while others substitute hard-boiled eggs for seafood (known as moqueca de ovos). Here are a few links to recipes from Brazilian cooks and chefs:
For years, I’ve made versions of Bahian moqueca during Lent on “fish Fridays,” but in this equally hearty, weeknight spin on the dish, I’ve replaced the seafood with soft-boiled eggs and coconut oil in place of the more usual dendê oil (or red palm oil). It’s by no means meant to be traditional rendition, but it’s one that pays homage to this classic stew.
A few notes and suggestions: To make this dish even speedier on weeknights, soft boil the eggs up to several days in advance and refrigerate until ready to use. Be sure to season each egg with a sprinkling of sea salt before serving, just as you would a nice piece of fish or meat, to really enhance their flavor. Leftovers, should you have any, heat up beautifully for cheerful lunches and dinners throughout the week.
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
1/2 to 2 cups
long-grain rice, such as basmati
large onion, diced
large red bell pepper, diced
each kosher salt and red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
large garlic cloves, minced
minced fresh ginger
14.5-ounce can diced or whole tomatoes (cut up into small pieces with kitchen shears)
14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
finely chopped cilantro (stems and leaves), plus more for serving
lime, finely zested then juiced
sea salt, for serving
- Get started by cooking the eggs and the rice for serving (using your desired amount and cooking method).
- For the soft-boiled eggs: Bring a large pan of water to a boil, and season with 1 tablespoon of salt (the salt will quickly solidify the whites if there are small cracks in any of the eggs). Using a spider or a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water. Cook for 6 minutes for yolks with a soft, jammy consistency, or 7 minutes for slightly firmer yolks, adjusting heat to maintain a gentle boil. Immediately transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and chill about 2 minutes, then peel.
- To make the stew: Heat the coconut oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and a few pinches of salt. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, minced ginger, red pepper flakes, and sweet paprika. Cook for another minute or so, stirring often, until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, 1/2 cup cilantro, and lime zest. Gently simmer (lowering heat if necessary) for about 10 minutes to meld all of the flavors. Season with lime juice (start with 2 teaspoons and add more, to taste). Taste again. Need more salt? Add a bit more. Need more heat? Add a few red pepper flakes. Add the peeled eggs, and cook another minute or so just to warm through. Off the heat, sprinkle each egg with a few pinches of sea salt. To serve, ladle the eggs and sauce over a mound of rice, and top with a little more cilantro.