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Brazilian, Latin American
Fish in Coconut Stew

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Comments: 2


This is a popular Brazilian stew, rich with creamy coconut milk. An authentic ingredient is palm oil (dendê), which lends a distinctive flavor and color, but you can use more olive oil instead.

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 15 Mins
Cooking time: 35 Mins


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¾ lb (800g) firm white fish, such as cod and snapper, cut into large chunks or strips
  • 3 tbsp palm oil (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

For the salsa:

  • 1 ripe tomato, skinned, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce


1. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Add the tomatoes and the peppers. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and released their juices. Stir in the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, make the salsa. Mix all the ingredients together and spoon into a serving bowl. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend.

3. Add the fish to the coconut milk mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes, until the fish is opaque throughout. Do not overcook. Stir in the palm oil, if using.

4. Transfer the stew to a heated serving dish and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve hot, with the salsa passed on the side.


Farofa de Dendê: To make this traditional side dish, heat 2 tbsp dendê oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 chopped onion and cook 5 minutes until tender. Add ½ cup manioc flour and 15 soaked drained, and finely chopped dried shrimp. Cook, stirring, until the flour is toasted, about 5 minutes.


Prepare ahead:

Prepare, cool, and refrigerate the stew up through step 1 up to 1 day ahead. When ready to serve, heat and add the fish. The salsa can be made up to 1 day ahead, but stir in the chopped parsley at the last minute.

© 2008 Dorling Kindersley

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.

574kcal (29%)
76mg (8%)
74mg (123%)
94mcg RAE (3%)
86mg (29%)
453mg (19%)
20g (102%)
41g (63%)
4mg (20%)

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  • shwillary

    10.15.13 Flag comment

    I totally bastardized this recipe but it was pretty good - I toasted about 6 oz of fideos before adding coconut milk, along with steeping a stalk of lemongrass and other adaptions. It was a great inspiration!

  • Barquinho

    01.11.10 Flag comment

    In Brazil, this is called Moqueca. Like the gumbos of Louisiana, each region and within the regions, each household makes a different version. I would only add that you might want to use a coconut milk with no added sugar and beware that dende can stimulate the lower GI. I prefer to use olive oil. Also, using a bit of lime juice and creole seasoning on the fish prior to cooking gives it a little zest that is missing.


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