Moqueca baiana is a rich seafood stew from Brazil, reminiscent of a mild curry but not made from a spice paste base. This recipe is for the Afro-Brazilian version of moqueca from the state of Bahia. There's also moqueca capixaba from Espirito Santo which uses tomato puree and annatto, lacking the African influence by omitting the coconut milk and dende oil (palm oil). Dende oil is the key ingredient in this recipe.


Recipe Summary

40 mins
48 mins
1 hr 28 mins
8 servings


Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place crabmeat and shrimp in a dish; coat with lemon juice, lime juice, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap; chill until ready to use.

  • Combine rice, 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, coconut milk, chopped onion, butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 clove garlic in a large saucepan or rice cooker. Simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

  • Heat dende oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir sliced onion until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add yellow bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and crushed pepper. Cook and stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sliced tomatoes, chopped tomato, and green onions. Reduce heat to low; let vegetable mixture simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cilantro.

  • Transfer 1/2 the vegetable mixture to a plate. Spread the remaining mixture to evenly cover the bottom of the skillet. Spread crab-shrimp mixture on top. Top with the remaining vegetable mixture and pour on coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook without stirring until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Serve over the rice.

Cook's Notes:

For fish use 3 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. I recommend mahi mahi as it goes great with rich flavors and has a low mercury content among firm white fishes. I hear monk fish tail fillets are great in moqueca and have a flavor similar to lobster with a firm fish texture.

More authentic recipes may use unpeeled shrimp, lobster, crawfish, and mussels if you don't mind playing with your food at the table.

For more authentic Bahian rice, omit the butter, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, mix in raw rice and cook until shiny (not browned). Add the water and cook for 15 minutes.

For less fat, use light coconut milk (60% less fat) and margarine or olive oil in the rice.

If you can't find dende oil locally, any red palm oil will suffice, or you can order it online.

Nutrition Facts

480 calories; protein 21.8g; carbohydrates 57.3g; fat 18.9g; cholesterol 95.7mg; sodium 1139.4mg. Full Nutrition