After years of writing belgian cuisine recipes in portuguese, I'll now start doing the opposite: Writing brazilian recipes in english. Here it goes!

The moqueca is one of the most famous items of brazilian cuisine. You will find moquecas with many variations in all states of Brazil, but it is mostly a northeast region dish. Reduced to its simplest expression, moqueca is basically fish cooked in palm oil and coconut milk. Some local variations such as the moqueca capixaba found in Espirito Santo state, don't include the palm oil (the sauce is made just with the fish cooking broth and coconut milk), but trust me and try this one first, there is nothing like it.

You can make moqueca with any fish, with or without shrimp, you can make a fantastic vegetarian version using plantain bananas (cooking bananas) instead of fish, or any combination of these, up to a grand queen moqueca with all three ingredients: Fish, shrimp and plantain.

In Brazil the most used fish for moqueca is cação, which in theory means shark, but is mostly a generic name for more than 20 different fish species. For the moqueca, it is usually cut not into fillets but into thick sections, cut vertically through the whole fish, including the central bone and skin, but you can perfectly well make moqueca with any kind of fish, cut any way you can get. Prefer sea fish with white, firm flesh, and the thickest fillets you can get. Haddock or cod will do fine.

Moqueca can be cooked in a pan or in the oven, and is usually sided with white rice and farofa amarela which is explained below too.

Ingredients (4 people)

  • 800g white, firm fish cut in fillets
  • 250g medium or large-sized shrimp (optional, add more if you don't use fish)
  • 2 plantain bananas (optional, add more if you don't use fish)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 big onions
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 1 or 2 chili peppers (optional, depending on your taste)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 200ml palm oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the farofa amarela:

  • 150g manioc flour
  • 2 tablespoons palm oil


Pan version: In a large cooking pan, drop about 2 or 3 tablespoon of the palm oil. Add the onions, garlic and peppers and chili peppers cut in large pieces (1 or 2 cm-sized squares), and salt. make everything fry for around 5 minutes, until the onions are softening and getting transparent.

Unskin and cut the bananas in 5cm-long parts if you will use bananas.

If you are using shrimp, remove the head of the shrimp and leave the skin (unskinned and/or pre-cooked shrimp will work just fine too).

Add the fish fillets, cut them in 2 or 3 if they are very large,