Close up of Brazilian Fish Stew in a bowl, ready to be eaten
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4.96 from 66 votes

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca Baiana)

Recipe video above. A traditional Brazilian dish in a delicately flavoured coconut base broth with terrific depth of flavour that belies the relatively short ingredient list! The broth is quite refreshing and not too rich, unlike many strong flavoured, rich coconut based curries. I made this just using fish but it is also made as a seafood stew with prawns and calamari.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Fish, Stew
Cuisine: Brazilian
Keyword: brazilian fish stew, fish stew, moqueca baiana
Servings: 4 - 5
Calories: 367kcal
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats



  • 1 lb / 500g firm white fish fillet , no skin, cut into 1"/2.5cm cubes (Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (Note 4)
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 small onion , finely diced (brown, yellow or white)
  • 1 red capsicum / bell pepper (large), halved and sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (any)
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 14 oz / 400ml coconut milk (full fat best, Note 2)
  • 14 oz / 400ml canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup fish broth/stock (or chicken or vegetable, Note 3)


  • 1 - 2 tbsp lime juice , plus more for serving
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro / coriander , plus more for serving



  • Combine the fish, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the fish and cook until just cooked through and light golden brown. Remove from the skillet and set aside.


  • Reduce the stove to medium high and heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in the same skillet. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 1 1/2 minutes or until the onion is starting to become translucent.
  • Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining Broth ingredients. Bring to simmer, then turn down to medium. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until it thickens. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Return the fish to the broth to reheat - about 2 minutes.
  • Stir through lime juice.
  • Garnish with cilantro/coriander and serve with rice or Lime Rice. For a low carb option, try Cauliflower Rice!


1. Fish - This dish is best made with firm white fish fillets because they hold their shape better. Firm white fish fillets include: Tilapia, hake, ling, blue-eye trevalla, emperors, mahi-mahi (dolphinfish), monkfish, halibut, cod, bass, catfish, John/silver Dory, barramundi, bream, hoki, any kind of snapper (which is what I used).
Salmon and trout also fantastic. I personally avoid fish that goes dry if cooked even slightly too long, like swordfish and tuna. If you use these fish take care not to overcook them.
2. Coconut milk - full fat is best because the coconut flavour is in the fat.
3. Fish broth/stock - I am a bit fussy when it comes to store bought fish stock. I only use store bought if I get a "good" one (read: expensive). Otherwise, I prefer chicken or vegetable stock (every day brands ok).
4. Palm oil - adding this note after several abusive messages received. Palm oil is the traditional oil used in this dish, but I am aware it is a controversial product and I am not endorsing its use, nor have I ever purchased or used it myself. I am merely noting that it is the traditional oil used in this recipe. Hopefully will not receive any more abusive messages!
5. Source: As with every traditional dish in this world, there are many variations of Brazilian Fish Stew! My recipe is a mish mash of various recipes that stays true to the traditional recipe but slightly tweaked to work for my palette. The main difference is that I like sauce so mine is saucier than most! The recipes I referenced include:
a) Feast Magazine - Fish soup (moqueca baiana)
b) Brazilian Foodie - Moqueca Baiana
c) Saveur - Brazilian Fish Stew
d) Simply Recipes - Moqueca - Brazilian Fish Stew
6. Nutrition per serving assuming 4 servings, excludes rice.


Serving: 609g | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 917mg | Potassium: 917mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2236IU | Vitamin C: 55mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 4mg