Seafood & Coconut milk

Brazilian seafood stew in coconut milk topped with fresh cilantro and lime juice.

Ok here is the thing: I love spending my Sunday evenings relaxing on the couch with a glass of Bordeaux wine and watching Masterchef Australia. It’s my little guilty pleasure 😉 And so the other day, I was watching one (very exciting) immunity challenge episode in which the talented young Chef Benjamin Cooper created his own version of a Brazilian seafood stew (called Moqueca) with lots of seafood and Brussels sprouts!

It simply looked amazing: vibrant in colour, fresh and healthy but in the same time creamy and comforting. I was literally drooling in front of my computer screen … hahaha… Couple of days later I found myself looking up online how to make the seafood stew, crossing recipes, making ingredients lists…

Brazilian seafood stew in coconut milk topped with fresh cilantro and lime juice.

I always find interesting to see how a dish is prepared in different part of the world. It seems like every culture with a coastline has their own version of a seafood stew. We French have Bouillabaisse, the Portuguese Bacalhoada, Italians have Cioppino, and in New England the famous Clams Chowder. In Brazil they make Moqueca with fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, and coconut milk. I love making fish stew, but had never thought to use a base of coconut milk!

A few words about this recipe:

– First, it’s easy. As exotic as it may sound, you probably have most of the ingredients already in your pantry (you’ll want to get fresh seafood though), and with prep, making rice, the total time involved is less than an hour.

– From what I have read true Moqueca is made with a fish caught off the coast of northern Brazil. Since I do not live in Brazil (would love to go for a trip though, Den if you hear me…;) I used a firm white fish and you will want to do the same so that it doesn’t break in the stew in tiny pieces. I used cod for this batch. You can also add gambas or tiger prawns or other shell fish to this stew. Palm oil is traditionally used in making Moqueca, but I didn’t have any at home, so I used olive oil.

– Finally to any Brazilians who might be reading this blog (Olé Brasil!) if you have a favorite Moqueca recipe, please tell me about it in the comments.

Moqueca in coconut milk topped with fresh cilantro and lime juice.

Brazilian Seafood Stew in creamy tomato sauce served with fresh cilantro:

Makes: 2 large bowls

Cooking time: 45mins


– juice of 2 lime

– pinch of salt, black pepper grounded

– 2 gambas or tiger prawns

– 150gr squid rings

– 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– 1 red bell pepper, roasted and finely chopped

– 1 onion, minced

– 5 garlic gloves, minced

– 1 bay leaf

– 1 can of diced tomatoes (400gr)

– 300ml chicken stock (preferably homemade)

– 250ml of creamy coconut milk

– ½ tsp cayenne pepper

– 300gr firm white fish (I used cod)

– a handful fresh cilantro, roughly minced

– 150gr of cooked brown rice or 2 Flat bread


In a large bowl combine the lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic, gambas or prawns, squid and fish and leave to marinate for about 30 mins in the fridge.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add 2tbsp of olive oil. Once the oil has heated add in the onion, red bell pepper, garlic and bay leaf and cook the vegetables for about 6 mins, stirring occasionally.

Increase heat to medium high and add the can of diced tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 mins.

Now add in the chicken broth, bring to boil and then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about 10 mins.

Discard the bay leaf.

If using a hand blender, puree the vegetables in the pot until smooth. If using a blender, allow to cool to room temperature and place one-third of vegetable mixture into pan. Repeat procedure with remaining vegetable mixture.

Put back your vegetable mixture in the pan if needed and add in the coconut milk and cayenne pepper.

Bring to boil over medium high heat and cook for 3 mins. Now mix in the marinated fish.

Cover the pot and cook for 3 to 5 mins or until seafood is done.

Serve in bowls and top with fresh chopped cilantro and rice or flat bread.

Bon appétit 🙂

Wine recommendation:

If you’re in the mood for a Brazilian pairing I would drop the wine here and go as the Brazilians do themselves and drink caipirinhas or beer with that gorgeous plate of seafood. Otherwise given its resemblance to Provençal bouillabaisse, Boulud poured a Provençal rosé would be a great choice. You could also go for a white Argentinian Torrontes or a fresh young Viognier.

The Dutch boyfriend’s opinion:

It has been a while since I took Raphaëlle to eat in a restaurant. At least twice a month she asks me when will be the next time I take her out. And at least twice a month I explain her that I think that what we eat in restaurants (yes, even the pretty and expensive ones) is less good than what we eat at home. The dishes at home look beautiful and are filled with flavour. But she still want to go out to eat in restaurants. Women..

The seafood dish was a dish as you would expect in a great restaurant. Rarely have I eaten squid that was so tenderly cooked and the creamy sauce binded the different seafood together. It felt like a complete stew: balanced as it should be. Again another reason to eat indoors.

Rate: 8/10

9 thoughts on “Seafood & Coconut milk

  1. Series 7 of Masterchef has just begun here, there is some amazing talent!! Love the sound of this soup Raphaelle. You didn’t say where to add the baking soda, is it in the marinade to tenderize the fish? We are often disappointed when we eat out too, I hear the same comment from my husband, “the food is better at home!”

    • Oh Sandra , what an awesome news to hear that season 7 of Masterchef has started already! I will be looking online to find the episode in streaming 🙂 The baking soda was a typo: I copy pasted my previous recipe to keep the same format and must have forgotten to remove that one line. I am glad I am not the only one who’s experiencing disappointment when going out for dinner. May be we should open up our own restaurant?! 😉

    • Sandra! After reading your comment I looked for Season 7 online and started to watch it! OMG most of them are really really good from episode 1! It’s impressive. I’d love to do the show in Australia. The cooking level is interesting and I’d love to learn some of Matt en Gary’s technics!

    • Thanks lady 😉 Masterchef is so addictive! Do you also watch the Australian version? If not I really recommend you to do so it’s really great inspiration for me who lives in Europe!

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