aniela Narcisco, a Brazilian cookbook creator and meals historian based mostly in Florianópolis, the capital of Santa Catarina, Brazil, describes moqueca as “a beautiful addition to any Easter celebration”. And this seafood stew, constructed on a number of easy but deeply flavourful components, is agreeable: its vibrant broth is luscious and lightweight, and evokes the essence of the ocean.

Though moqueca isn’t reserved for saints’ days, it’s properly suited to meals for Easter, Good Friday or some other time non secular observances require a pescatarian-friendly dish. Perfect for each small gatherings and celebrations, moqueca additionally serves as an on a regular basis meal throughout Brazil.

Variations exist all through the nation. Within the northeast state of Bahia, moqueca attracts from the wealthy tradition of its Afro-Brazilian inhabitants. It begins with sautéed garlic, onion, tomatoes and candy peppers, adopted by coconut milk and the freshest seafood yow will discover. An added sizzling chilli is vital for depth, as is crimson palm oil, referred to as azeite de dendê in Portuguese. One other well-known model is the Indigenous and Portuguese-influenced moqueca capixaba from Espírito Santo, south of Bahia, that has a base of olive oil and annatto seeds. And in every single place, there’s a vegetarian different that replaces seafood with yellow plantains.

I like the various variations of moqueca, however I’m drawn to Bahia’s as a result of I do know it from childhood because the acquainted fish stew included in my household’s Easter celebrations in Lagos, Nigeria. Ozoz Sokoh, creator of the weblog Kitchen Butterfly and curator of Feast Afrique, was born and raised in Nigeria and notes: “Dishes we’ve at all times related to Easter weekend celebrations – mingau, frejon and kanjika, a spiced jelly pudding of cornstarch and coconut milk – are dishes current on each side of the Atlantic.”

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The Brazilian dishes Sokoh mentioned arrived in West Africa with previously enslaved folks from Brazil who settled in Lagos within the nineteenth century. That highly effective connection between the continents left a long-lasting affect on Nigerian delicacies.

Frequent amongst moquecas is the usage of a large, shallow cooking vessel that permits the seafood to cook dinner evenly and the liquid to cut back right into a creamy sauce. Mara Salles, chef and proprietor of the restaurant Tordesilhas in São Paulo, considers a large clay pot as basic to the method. “The clay pot ensures the moqueca comes effervescent and colourful to the desk,” she stated. “A beautiful expertise.”

Salles serves it with conventional accompaniments of acaçá, a rice facet dish with a pudding-like texture, and farofa made with toasted manioc powder. She additionally affords pirão, a creamy manioc facet dish using inventory from the fish used for the moqueca.

The stew stays the centerpiece. The broth lingers on the palate with a slowly constructing bouquet of floral flavours, a bit of warmth and the umami of the seafood. That’s the brilliance of moqueca: a easy mixture with deeply satisfying outcomes.

Moqueca (Brazilian seafood stew)

Moqueca is historically served in a large, clay pot, however a forged iron pan will do


Makes: 4 to six servings

Whole time: 40 minutes


6 head-on prawns or massive head-on shrimp (about 340g)

340g cod fillet, reduce into 1in items

Kosher salt (or kitchen salt)

2 limes

3tbsp dendê oil (crimson palm oil, see tip under)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 small yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)

225g candy child bell peppers or 2 bell peppers, any color, sliced into 2.5cm strips (2 cups)

450g contemporary tomatoes, reduce in 2.5cm-wide wedges (2½ cups)

1 complete sizzling chilli, equivalent to crimson scotch bonnet or chicken’s eye, pierced throughout with the tip of a knife

1 (400ml) can full-fat coconut milk

¼ cup chopped contemporary coriander

Steamed rice, for serving


1. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to chop alongside the size of every prawn deep sufficient to reveal and take away the vein. Place the fish chunks in a big bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Squeeze within the juice of 1 lime and toss to coat. Set the prawns and fish apart whereas making ready the sauce.

2. In a big, shallow forged iron pan or deep frying pan, soften 2 tablespoons dendê oil over medium warmth. Add the garlic and cook dinner, stirring, till softened and aromatic, 1 minute. Add the onion, stir and cook dinner, stirring till translucent, about 2 minutes.

3. Improve the warmth to excessive, add the peppers, tomatoes and chilli. Season with salt. Prepare dinner, stirring continuously, till the peppers are softened and any liquid from the tomatoes is starting to evaporate, 4 minutes.

4. Pour within the coconut milk, stir and cut back the warmth to medium. Simmer, stirring sometimes, till the liquid thickens and reduces to a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes. Style, modify the salt, if needed, and stir in 2 tablespoons chopped coriander.

5. Fastidiously place the prawns within the sauce in a single layer and cook dinner for two minutes. Flip the prawns to cook dinner the opposite sides and add the cod (discard any juices within the bowl). The fish will likely be partly submerged. Prepare dinner till the fish is tender and simply cooked by, 2 to three minutes.

6. Take away from warmth, drizzle within the remaining 1 tablespoon dendê oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped coriander. Slice the remaining lime into wedges. Serve instantly, with steamed rice and lime wedges for squeezing.

Tip: Dendê oil, also referred to as crimson palm oil, is offered on-line or at West African or Caribbean markets.

© New York Occasions


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