Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew)


This version of moqueca, featuring shrimp, tomato, peppers, and chiles bobbing in a broth enriched with coconut milk and dendê oil, is a perfect entry point for the uninitiated.

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs
4 servings

Across Brazil, home cooks put their own spin on this classic dish. Traditionally slow-simmered in clay pots, the stew comes together in a Dutch oven and packs maximum flavor with minimal effort. Look for dedo de moça chiles and dendê oil in Latin grocery stores or online.


Shrimp Stock

  • 1 pound unpeeled head-on, tail-on raw large shrimp

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges

  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrot (from 1 large carrot)

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) dry white wine

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped celery

  • 4 cilantro sprigs

  • 2 thyme sprigs

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 3 small plum tomatoes, bottom of each scored with a 1/2-inch “X”

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion

  • 1 cup sliced red bell pepper

  • 1 jarred dedo de moça chile, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup well-shaken and stirred unsweetened canned coconut milk, divided

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons dendê (red palm) oil, or more to taste

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 3 cups cooked long-grain white rice, warmed

  • Lime wedges, for serving

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


Make the shrimp stock

  1. Remove heads and shells from shrimp; set aside. Devein shrimp; place shrimp in a bowl and chill, covered, until ready to use. Combine shrimp heads and shells, 4 cups water, onion, carrot, wine, celery, cilantro, thyme, garlic, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces to about 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Set stock aside until ready to use. (Stock can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer.)

Make the stew

  1. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high. Add tomatoes; cook until skins begin to loosen, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a bowl filled with ice water; let stand until cool, about 5 minutes. Remove from ice water; peel and discard tomato skins. Remove and discard seeds. Chop tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high. Add tomato pieces, onion, bell pepper, and dedo de moça chile. Cook, stirring often, until onion and bell pepper are softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring occasionally, until mostly evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in shrimp stock; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, until mixture reduces by half, about 40 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1 teaspoon salt.

  3. Remove shrimp from refrigerator; sprinkle with black pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over high. Add shrimp; cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  4. Stir dendê oil and remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk into stew. Reduce heat to low and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in shrimp and chopped cilantro. Serve over rice with lime wedges; garnish with cilantro leaves.

    Moqueca Brazilian Seafood Stew
    Victor Protasio
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