Brazilian Salmon and Sweet Potato Stew

Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew. It combines many of my favorite flavors, including tomato, peppers, coconut milk, and cilantro, and I’ve been wanting to make it for a long time.

Some recipes call for cod, striped bass, or snapper, but because these fish are considered “moderate mercury” fish by the National Resources Defense Council, they are best eaten only occasionally. So in this stew, I used wild Alaskan salmon (as it is low in mercury, is sustainably harvested, and let’s not forget about all those awesome omega-3s).

The sweet potato is not a typical moqueca ingredient, but yams are used in Brazilian cooking, so I felt they would fit in just fine. I like how they balance the dish, adding a bit of healthy starch and additional color to what’s already a pretty gorgeous stew. I adore coconut and found that the 3/4 cup of coconut milk in the recipe adds extremely subtle flavor; if you are looking for a more pronounced coconut taste, feel free to add more…

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A few more great looking recipes for Moqueca:
Recipe for Brazilian Fish Stew at Leite’s Culinaria
Moqueca from Elise at Simply Recipes

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

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Recipe for Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

use local/organic ingredients whenever possible


For the fish and the marinade:

  • *1 1/2 pounds wild salmon fillets
  • *one 28 oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes undrained
  • *1 onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • *1 cup cilantro chopped
  • *2 garlic cloves cut in half
  • *1 Serrano chile pepper stemmed and cut in half (use the seeds, too, if you want your stew to be pretty spicy)
  • *1/4 cup lime juice or brown rice vinegar
  • *1 tablespoon olive oil
  • *1 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt

For the stew:

  • *1 tablespoon organic coconut oil or olive oil
  • *1 large sweet potato peeled and diced
  • *1 zucchini chopped
  • *1 green pepper chopped
  • *1 red pepper chopped
  • *1/2 cup water or fish stock
  • *3/4 cup organic whole coconut milk
  • *1/2 cup chopped green onion bottom parts only- for garnish
  • *1/2 cup cilantro chopped- for garnish


  • 1. Place fish in a shallow non-reactive (non-metal) bowl. Combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, chile pepper, lime juice, oil and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade (or a blender). Process until smooth and pour over fish. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • 2. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced sweet potato and cook for 10-15 minutes, adding a little water if needed so it doesn't burn, until softened. Add zucchini, green and red pepper and continue to cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes, again adding water to the pan, if needed. Add water or fish stock and stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  • 3. Add fish and marinade and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Just before serving, stir in green onion and cilantro. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or another healthy whole grain, if desired.

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14 thoughts on “Brazilian Salmon and Sweet Potato Stew”

  1. Thanks so much for the post …. I was looking around for Brazilian recipes and found this one. I’ve tried moqueca before but never with salmon… I used tilapia.

    I’m trying to brush up on my Brazilian cooking and learning Portuguese online at ( — it’s keeping me warm while it’s still so cold in Germany, even in April!!

  2. Really?! Oh! Hope you like it as much as I do! Can I send it through “contact me”? I think it’s too big for a comment.

  3. What a nice thing to see a brazilian moqueca here!! (i’m brazilian!)
    That does look good and I’m sure gonna try this with the sweet potato and the salmon! If you want to try my personal recipe, I’ll be glad to give it to you!

  4. I am really in need of a recipe with fish and tomato sauce together, but I don’t like the usual ones, i wanted some twists. And thank God i found your site. This is really helpful. Plus, I love the fish that you use- Salmon. And for the ingredients, they compliment each other so I am sure that this is one hell of a recipe!

  5. Great looking recipe, Winnie, and I’m completely in tune with your list of favorite ingredients. My husband picked up 5 pounds of cheap, fresh, and locally caught jumbo shrimp yesterday ($4.50/lb.), so I’m going to cheat and make it with those.

  6. Your blog and recipes are just lovely. Im excited about this one, and will try it soon. WIll blog about it when I do.

  7. Like Wendy, I have always been a bit suspicious of using fish in stews or soups. This looks quite interesting though! I think I might have to try it! The trick for me will be cutting the recipe down just to serve 1 or 2…

  8. Wendy,
    You could keep it vegetarian and just add more veggies, or substitute some beans, maybe chickpeas or even black beans, for the fish. Chicken might work, but the procedure and cooking times would have to be adapted a bit. Let me know if you try another version…

  9. I just can’t get used to fish in stew . . . the rest of the ingredients look good though. Maybe I’ll try a substitution.