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Recipes from Around the World: “Moqueca” – A Brazilian Fish Stew

Brazilian Fish Stew, originally known as “Moqueca,” is a typical Brazilian dish that features fish and shellfish cooked in a coconut milk and palm oil based sauce with vegetables, and is typically served over white rice. Although there are many variations of this recipe depending on the region, the two most common ones come from the Brazilian states of Baia and Espirito Santo. Regardless of the different variations, this flavorful, hearty recipe is filled with protein, healthy fats, and several vitamins and micronutrients from the vegetables!

Ingredient Highlights

  • Lean Fish: Fish is a great source of protein and healthy fats. It is also a good source of minerals such as selenium and potassium, and B vitamins. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from fish are linked with reduced inflammation [i].
  • Red and Yellow Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C and the phytochemical lycopene. Lycopene may be associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer [ii]. Peppers are also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E, and fiber [iii]
  • Tomato: Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta carotene. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune function and some studies suggest that it suppresses the formation of carcinogens. Beta carotene, which the body needs to produce vitamin A, also plays a role in immune function and helps to regulate cell growth [iv].  
  • Parsley and Cilantro: In addition to vitamins A and C, parsley and cilantro also contain protective phytochemicals [v]
  • Light Coconut Milk: Although regular coconut milk is high in fat, a few tablespoons of light coconut milk can still provide flavor but with less fat. Additionally, light coconut milk contains small amounts of fat in the form of MCT oil. MCT oil can be used as a quick source of energy as it is more easily digested and absorbed than other forms of fat [vi].


Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

Serves: 3


  • 14 oz cod filets, fresh (can also use other lean fish such as sea bass, haddock, or tilapia)
  • 1 tsp salt, additional salt to taste set aside
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 9 oz shrimp, fresh or frozen 
  • 6.5 Tbsp light coconut milk
  • Fresh parsley to taste
  • Fresh cilantro to taste 
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  1. Slice the fish into 1 inch filets. Season with salt and pepper and store in the refrigerator. 
  2. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Remove the seeds and then slice into thin strips. 
  3. Remove the seeds from the bell peppers and slice into thin strips.  
  4. In a deep pan (preferably ceramic), add the minced garlic, onion, and tomatoes over high heat. Do not add any oil. Stir frequently until the tomatoes are soft and begin to release liquid. 
  5. When the tomatoes are very soft, add a cup of water and continue to stir. 
  6. Add the bell peppers and the fish filets, cover and cook for 5 minutes. 
  7. Add the shrimp, light coconut milk, parsley, and cilantro. Gently stir in order to not break up the fish. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  8. Add additional salt and cayenne pepper to taste. 
  9. Serve over white or brown rice.


  • Frozen fish and frozen shrimp can be used instead of fresh. Make sure to dethaw the fish prior to cooking and then follow the recipe. 
  • If you have a shellfish allergy, you can omit the shrimp and add other types of seafood (i.e. scallops, calamari) to make it more protein dense. 
  • If you do not like bell peppers, you can substitute them with other vegetables of your preference (i.e. zucchini, squash).


[i] Fish and Cancer Risk: 4 Things You Need to Know. (2022). Retrieved 3 August 2022, from https://www.aicr.org/news/fish-and-cancer-risk-4-things-you-need-to-know/

[ii] Wolz, C. (2010). Have a Pepper Party. Retrieved 3 August 2022, from https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/have-a-pepper-party/

[iii] Bell peppers: Benefits, risks, cooking, and more. (2022). Retrieved 3 August 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/bell-peppers#other-vitamins-and-minerals

[iv] Tomatoes: Major Source of Lycopene. (2022). Retrieved 3 August 2022, from https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/food-facts/tomatoes/#research

[v] Wolz, C. (2010). Subtle Spices Add Health Perks. Retrieved 3 August 2022, from https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/subtle-spices-add-health-perks/

[vi] Coconut Milk: Health Benefits and Uses. (2022). Retrieved 4 August 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-milk#weight-loss

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