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Moqueca de Peixe (Afro-Brasilian Fish Stew)

August 8, 2009

In 2008 I moved to Brasil to heal myself. 

The year before, I was in an abusive relationship and suffered a lot of trauma. I had abandoned my body and was steeped in depression. I was a heavy emotional eater and I had essentially checked out of life. 

In order to recover, I felt it necessary to leave everything I knew and immerse myself in something new. 

That place was Salvador da Bahia, Brasil. 

I got all the healing I needed plus some. While there I met this dish and fell in love ~ Moqueca de Peixe . A traditional, creamy Afro­Brazilian fish stew made from a base of coconut milk and palm oil with a flavorful combination of hot and sweet peppers, onion, cilantro, tomato and lots of Ase! 

Meal time is an act of prayer for me. It’s a way to honor my body, my emotions, my mind, my community and ultimately my SELF. 

The flavors in this dish are loud like a party. Bold like a statement piece. Exciting like life. 

Eating it reminds me of the transformation that took place in my soul during that lonely time. 

It also reminds me of the beauty of African Heritage. No matter what happens to us, our SPIRT survives. 




Moqueca de Peixe (Afro-Brasilian Fish Stew)

A flavorful, colorful fish stew made from a base of coconut milk and palm oil.


  • 1 lb. white firm fish (I prefer swordfish)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 12 habanero pepper, de-seeded
  • 1 red chile pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup of cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1” ginger
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • ⅔ tsp of smoked paprika powder
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup palm oil
  • 213.25oz coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 handful of shredded kale (optional)


  1. Clean fish with 1 lime and chop into bite size pieces and set aside.
  2. Make fish stock by mixing 1 tsp of fish sauce with ¼ cup water and set aside. (If you have fish stock already prepared, you may use ¼ cup of that instead.)
  3. Mix ¼ cup of cilantro with sliced red chile pepper and shallot and set aside. This will be your garnish.
  4. Grate 1″ piece of ginger with 8 garlic cloves using a microplane or the fine edge of your grater. If you don’t have either, you may blend them or chop them in a food processor as well. You may have to add a little water to make a paste in blender. Don’t worry about that, the water won’t affect the strength nor taste.
  5. Blend 2 tomatoes with seedless habanero(s).
  6. Add palm oil to dutch pot and heat on medium flame.
  7. Once heated, add ginger-garlic and paprika paste to oil and “fry” until fragrant.
  8. Once fragrant, add ONLY ½ of the onions and peppers and “fry” until fragrant again.
  9. Once fragrant, add tomato-habanero blend and “fry” the tomato mixture in hot oil for about 1 minute.
  10. This step allows all of the flavors to seal and set the tone for the stew.
  11. Reduce heat to low.
  12. Lay fish pieces on top of tomato mixture.
  13. Next lay the OTHER ½ of onions and peppers, followed by kale and more cilantro if you like.
  14. Pour fish stock, coconut milk and lime juice over veggies and fish.
  15. Cover the dutch pot and cook until fish is done.
  16. It doesn’t take long for the fish to cook (about 7-10 minutes).
  17. Don’t worry about mixing the pot neither, there will be plenty of time to do that once the dish is finished.
  18. Serve by itself with garnish of (shallots, chiles and cilantro) or over rice or with boiled green banana or cassava.

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