Brazilian Moqueca

January 30, 2009

I have a pretty exciting food journey for you today. Okay, at least it was exciting for me.

Last weekend a friend of mine invited my husband and I over for lunch. Her husband was going to teach me how to make Moqueca! Moqueca de Camarão to be exact.

Moqueca de Camarão is a dish from Bahia in the north. It is basically a shrimp stew served over rice, often with farofa. My friends had just taken a vacation to Salvador in Bahia and were happy to show me how to make it.

This was very exciting for me for two reasons – 1) I had never had or made the dish before. 2) I found out that a fish shop here sells fresh (not frozen) shrimp. I’ve been living here 18 months and just now found that out!

We have not yet been to the north of the country, but we hear the north and south of Brazil are like two different worlds. This was my first time eating Moqueca and I loved it. It was such a nice change from the red meat overload we get here. I’m looking forward to making it myself very soon.

I have the recipe to share with you, but I have to warn you there is a secret ingredient that I have not found out how to make yet. We’ll call it a seasoning paste. I’m pretty sure it was a paste made from garlic, cilantro, parsley and cumin, but I don’t have exact measurements. I’ll let you know when I find out for sure. It was similar to sofrito, but I’m not sure it is the same thing here.

Let’s get started.

First, this dish is made with azeite de dendê. This, I have learned, is what we call palm oil. This is traditionally used in the dish, but any oil will do if you don’t have access to it.

Next, the dish is made in a clay pot. I plan to try to get my hands on one before we move back to the States and pray it doesn’t break in the shipping process.


Ingredients were already chopped and ready to go when I got there. I was pretty much a witness to the whole thing, but I got good pictures. Anyway, I am estimating amounts based on what I saw.


Moqueca de Camarão
½ cup palm oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 green peppers, sliced
4 cloves of garlic sliced
3-4 tomatoes, sliced
1 Tbsp seasoning paste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
¾ to 1 cup coconut milk
Heat oil in the pot. Add onions, green peppers and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and seasoning paste. Continue cooking for an addition 3 to 5 minutes. The goal is to cook the tomatoes down into more of a sauce.

Add shrimp and cook until barely cooked through. Stir in coconut milk and simmer. Place lid on pot and continue to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

In addition to the rice he also made farofa. Farofa is a toasted mandioca flour most often served with meats and rice and beans. Mandioca is also known as manioc, cassava and yuca. Mandioca is also used to make tapioca – just to throw in some more info for you there.

I had never seen Farofa made from scratch, but it doesn’t look hard. You add a little more palm oil to the pan, a chopped onion and then the mandioca flour and toast it up.

We had an awesome tapioca dessert too, but I’m going to save that for another post. Enjoy your Moqueca!

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  • Cris January 30, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Hi Lori. I love love love moqueca, to me this is to me one of the easiest and tastiest dishes we have. I posted about it some time ago. Good to hear that you like it!

  • Emily January 30, 2009 at 6:30 am

    I LOVE moqueca. Love. I had it a couple years ago with some family friends in Angra dos Reais and have dreamed about it since but not had it. Maybe I’ll have to try using your recipe! Here in Chile they also have a lot of clay pots, but the palm oil might be tricky…cooking in another country is always an adventure, isn’t it?

  • Meg January 30, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Yum! This looks so full of flavor and I love anything with shrimp.

  • Erica January 30, 2009 at 7:31 am

    oh my gosh- looks so yummy! I love shrimp! What a fun night ya’ll had.

    I hope you have a great weekend 🙂

  • laura January 30, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I will cross my fingers for that clay pot coming back in one piece! Some relatives living in Spain for work brought us back a Paella pan, saffron, and their recipe–the recipe was the best part because like you they learned it from local friends.

  • Netts Nook January 30, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for Sharing Moqueca I can’t wait to try it.

  • healthy ashley January 30, 2009 at 10:53 am

    What a fun dish! I think it’s best when taught by the “source”! 🙂

  • Lori January 30, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Hi Cris – Thanks so much for your comment. I checked out your blogs and love them. Yours are the first I’ve seen of the Brazilian blogging world (in Portuguese). I’m looking forward to getting more recipes.

    Emily – I think it would be fine with another mild flavored oil. I didn’t really notice a distinct taste of the oil. It does turn it kind of red though.

    Meg – I like shrimp dishes too. I’m glad to know I can get it here. The fresh variety, that is.

    Erica – It tasted great too. Have a great weekend!

    Laura – Ha, ha! I’ll have to travel a bit to get it. I hear they sell them in Curitiba about 5 hours from here. We already had a trip planned for the end of Feb. I can get them at the market. That is why this experience was so great. I haven’t had a lot of those cooking experiences since here. Most of the people we have met are younger and don’t cook!

    Netts Nook – Hi there. Thanks so much for stopping by with your comment. I hope you like it!

    Healthy Ashley – For sure. Although, I have a pretty bad memory. I usually take a notebook if someone is showing me, but this time all I had was the camera so I took A LOT of shots. 🙂

  • Daily Spud January 30, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    It’s that kind of experience that’s just one of the best things about foreign travel and living in other countries. Lovely 🙂

  • lauren January 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    YUM. That sounds incredible. The fresh shrimp look huge!

    and I would love to be in brazil right now…i need a vacation!

  • Kevin January 30, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I have never had this dish before either. It sounds good!

  • Tangled Noodle January 31, 2009 at 11:13 am

    This looks great! How fun it must be to just get together with friends and start cooking. The clay pot in your photos look like the Chilean pomaire pot that I have. I can’t wait to use it!

  • Lori January 31, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Daily Spud – I think this is really my favorite thing about living abroad for sure.

    lauren – My advice is stay on the coast somewhere. 😉 The shrimp and other seafood there is amazing. Not so much here in the central south.

    Kevin – It was new to me. Simple, yet still very unique.

    TN – I’m sure the pot is probably the same. There are a lot of similarities throughout South America, but sometimes they don’t like to admit it. 🙂 As someone not from here though you have different perspective.

  • Joie de vivre February 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Oh Wow! This looks wonderful!

  • Katie February 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm


  • Lori February 2, 2009 at 3:55 am

    Joie and Katie – The picture doesn’t lie. 🙂 It was mighty tasty!