Moquecas aka Brazilian Fish Stew


My multi-continent commute to work  started like every other one, RDU to ATL, ATL to GRU. The GRU to VOL (Sao Paolo to Vitoria) is where things departed from the regular script. Instead of landing, a few hundred feet from the ground the pilot decided something wasn’t kosher and gunned it back up to 30,000 feet. The plane made a hard left and we flew another hour to an airport called “I have no idea because i don’t speak much portuguese”. They fueled up the bird and we eventually made it back to Vitoria unharmed. By the time we landed it was too late to do our customary beers by the Atlantic Ocean so, we made our way downtown to the “Triangle” area to grab something to eat. Looking for something authentic, the people at the front desk steered us past the Mc Donalds to Restaurant Enseada Geraldinho and suggested we try the Moqueca if we wanted something authentic.

Moqueca is a dish that originated in this region of Brazil over three hundred years ago. It is a tomato based fish stew with onions, cilantro, and olive oil that can have a number of combinations of seafood. The dish holds special favor in Vitoria not only because it originated here but the city is also home to an organization of pan makers who make the Capixaba pans the dish is slowly cooked in.


The menu had a slew of different variations with all the good stuff from the sea, grouper, shrimp, crab, lobster and dogfish. The waiter told us the most authentic version was the shrimp and grouper. We placed our order and guzzled down a few Brahma Extra Cervejas while we waited. We were seated outside just under an awning which is normally great for people watching but it was still pouring and the only person in sight was a man trying to solicit tips for parking advice. He was wearing flip-flops and had his blue jeans rolled up to his knees. Holding a bright yellow table beach umbrella he would try to guide people into a spot like the guy with the earmuffs on the tarmac at the airport. People for the most part showed him no mind but hey, it isbetter than just begging.

First our fried shrimp came out and they were pretty good but they were not peeled. I found it awkward biting through the breading and encountering the shell. When the Moqueca was served it became immediately evident why this was the dish to taste when in Vitoria. The jet black pan was full of shrimp swimming in a light red sauce that was sizzling at the edges (this dish bubbled for a good 10 minutes). Contrasting red stew, was the green cilantro that was generously sprinkled over the top. The flavor was excellent and waiting at the bottom of the pan was the grouper just when you forget it was supposed to be there. The Moqueca greatly exceeded our expectations and I look forward to trying it at another place to see how it stands up.

So if  you are ever in the Espirito Santo State of Brazil, you must ignore what a strange-sounding word it is and try the Moqueca. And if you make it specifically to Vitoria you must try it at Restaurant Enseada Geraldinho although I do plan to test the competition’s version of it too.


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Categories: South America


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4 Comments on “Moquecas aka Brazilian Fish Stew”

  1. February 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    I love reading about new dishes from different cultures. This sounds so delicious.

  2. February 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Looks so delicious!! 🙂

    • February 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      Katatiina it is without a doubt something i have to try to re-create. trying to find the pans online so i dont have to lug one from down here


  1. Paneleiras de Goiabeiras (Clay Pot Craftswomen from Goiabeiras) | La Buena Vida - October 29, 2014

    […] Brazil, I have had the opportunity to enjoy a few steaming pots of a fish laden stew called Moqueca. I finally had a chance to visit the place where the pots that Moqueca are cooked and served […]

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