A blend of fresh mixed seafood works with special oils and coconut for a rich, silky, tropical Moqueca fish stew.

Moqueca (sometimes muqueca) is a traditional Brazilian/Portuguese seafood stew from the southeastern coastal states of Brazil. It is usually found in two varieties, moqueca capixaba from the state of Espírito Santo and moqueca bahiana from the state of Bahia, the main difference being the type of oil used in the preparation.

The distinctive oil used in the bahiana version is palm oil, derived from the mesocarp (pulp) of the fruit from the equitorial palm tree. Solid at room temperature, palm oil is high in beta-carotene and has a reddish hue and luxurious fatty flavor that is widely used in many dishes of South American and African subtropical cultures.

Not without its negatives, palm oil is rarely used in many industrialized cuisines. It is high in saturated fats, posing health concerns in Western protein-heavy diets, and has ethical concerns attached to it as developing nations often clear-cut forests for commercial palm oil monoculture. A heavy nut oil like peanut or even olive can be substituted but will be lacking the characteristic ruby color.

The cooking oil aside, any combination of fresh mixed fish, shellfish (mussels, scallops) or crustaceans (crab, lobster) can be used with any convenient aromatic vegetables. Some recipes call for a day-long simmering pot, but quicker versions are just as good with smooth coconut milk and seafood stock or clam broth.

Top the stew with fresh chopped cilantro and lime, and serve over steamed jasmine rice.


1 lb mahi mahi
8 oz shrimp
1 yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
1 tomato
3 cloves of garlic
2 c vegetable broth
1 c coconut milk
2 T palm oil
1 t basil
red chile flakes
black pepper

For the marinade:
2 cloves of garlic
1-in. piece of ginger
1 T palm oil

1 Cut the fish into 1-in. pieces, and shell and devein the shrimp. Mince the garlic and ginger, and combine the seafood with the marinade ingredients until well coated. Let marinate for 30 min.

2 Julienne the onion and bell pepper, chop the tomato and mince the garlic. Sauté the vegetables in the palm oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 min. Add the red chile flakes, and season to taste.

3 Add the seafood with marinade along with the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 min. Finish with chopped cilantro, basil and fresh lime juice.


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