Recipe courtesy of Pirate Republic Seafood

Seafood Moqueca

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 15 min
  • Active: 1 hr 5 min
  • Yield: 4 serving
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1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced 

2 large onions (about 1 pound), thinly sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1 tablespoon Brazilian Pepper Sauce, recipe follows, plus more to taste

3 large bell peppers (about 1 pound; red, yellow and green), thinly sliced

One 28-ounce can diced or pureed tomatoes


1 1/2 pounds firm fish fillets (corvina, tilapia, halibut, snapper, catfish, haddock or grouper)

12 middleneck clams 

12 large mussels 

2 pounds calamari tubes

12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined 

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk 

1 tablespoon dende oil (palm oil) 

Salt and ground black pepper

6 green onions, sliced thin

1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Cooked white rice, for serving

Brazilian Pepper Sauce:

1 cup brined Biquinho pepper, drained

1 cup brined Bode pepper, drained 

1/2 cup brined Dedo de Moca pepper, drained 

5 brined Malagueta peppers (or piripiri) 

1/2 cup olive oil 

1 tablespoon kosher salt 


  1. For the sauce: Heat a 12-inch saute pan with a lid or a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, then add oil and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds or so, until it gets a little color, then add onions, salt, pepper and Pepper Sauce. Cover pan and sweat the onions for 4 to 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and tomatoes, then cover, lower heat and very gently simmer, scraping the bottom to prevent burning every 5 minutes or so, until peppers and onions are cooked but still have a bite, about 30 minutes. Check your seasonings again.
  2. For the seafood: Meanwhile prepare the seafood: cut fish fillets into thumb-size pieces (same size as the shrimp), scrub clams and mussels, and cut calamari into rings.
  3. Increase temperature of the sauce to medium-high. Add clams, fish, shrimp, coconut milk and dende oil and season with salt and pepper (and more Pepper Sauce to taste). Cover the pan until clams start to open, 2 to 3 minutes. Add calamari and mussels, then cover again and cook until all shells are open and calamari and shrimp are opaque and cooked through, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Serve family-style, from your Dutch oven, or split into four large bowls.
  5. Garnish with green onions, parsley and cilantro, if using. Serve with white rice.

Brazilian Pepper Sauce:

Yield: 3 cups
  1. Combine the peppers, olive oil and salt in a food processor until fully incorporated.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note

Moqueca is a very versatile dish from the central coast of Brazil that can be easily adapted to what you have on hand or find in your seafood market, as well as if anyone in your party has a dietary restriction or allergy. It can be made with fish only (I recommend fish steaks because the bones bring a nice flavor/consistency to the dish), shrimp only, swap clams or mussels, or you can add fresh crab, lobster tail, scallops or cooked octopus to make it even more interesting. Dende oil is a thick, dark, reddish-orange, strong-flavored oil extracted from the pulp of a fruit from a type of palm tree grown in Africa and in Brazil. It is used in cooking in West Africa and in Brazil. It can be easily found online. A little bit goes a long way. Brazilian peppers have different flavors and heat profiles. They usually come brined in vinegar, and are easily found online as well. You can always use your favorite fresh peppers or pepper sauce: Just add it to the sauce before the seafood goes in.