Making Moqueca

Making Bahian-style moqueca in a clay pot

Few meals excite me as much as a seafood moqueca over rice with a tasty pirão . Include a fresh salad and I will think (no, I will know) I have died and gone to heaven. If everything is cooked in clay or stone pots it most certainly inspires a blog post.
A couple weeks ago I met a young neighbor who had never been to Niterói’s remarkable fish market. It always surprises me when I, the gringo new resident, know more about local treasures than folks born and raised here. I guess that is not all too surprising. Some of our friends who have lived here all their lives have never been to Sugarloaf or Corcovado in Rio. To be fair, I lived in San Francisco for more than 8 years before I finally visited Alcatraz Island (and then only when taking a tourist friend to see the place).
At any rate, I used my recent craving for a mouth watering moqueca as an opportunity to show my new friend what he has been missing in terms of quality fresh seafood at discount prices available only at the SãoPedro Fish Market
Some people like a fish moqueca. Others like a moqueca swimming with plump, flavorful shrimp. Me – I say use them both. If you are going for a full on seafood moqueca you may want to include mussels or clams, and maybe some squid, but for the sake of avoiding local mussels pulled from our polluted bay and the near-certain rubbery squid that would result from over cooking (it is a stew, after all, and squid is super tricky when it comes to cook times), I went with just fish and shrimp. Simple and delicious.
We perused the numerous stands at the market hawking shrimp in various sizes. I bought about ¾ of a kilogram from the cutest fish monger I could spot who was still selling his morning catch of crustaceans at a decent price. I paid R$10 even. They were pretty big little guys. I was happy.
For fish I went with two big steaks of firm flesh dorado, a little less than a kilogram overall. It is best to choose a fish with a firm flesh so that it holds its shape and does not disintegrate when cooking in the stew. I think I paid about R$8 for the fish, total.
Back in my kitchen the first order of business was to shell and de-vein the shrimp. I saved the heads and shells and boiled them up with some chunks of onion, celery, a bay leaf and salt and pepper to get a simple broth I would use later in the pirão.
After looking up a few Bahian-style moqueca recipes online I cross referenced that with what Luiz said he usually does. It’s essentially a fish stew made with coconut milk. You can feel your way around and do what pleases you without really running the risk of ruining anything. Just don’t overcook your seafood and you will be OK.
Here is approximately what I used:
– the fish and shrimp
– a red and a green pepper, sliced into thin rounds
– one large onion, sliced into thin rounds
– several cloves of garlic, crushed
– several tomatoes, seeded, sliced crosswise
– several little hot peppers, seeded, chopped fine
– a bunch of cilantro and scallions (cheiro verde), chopped fine-ish
– 400 ml coconut milk
– dendê oil for frying (this is the crucial ingredient for getting that Bahian flavor)
You will also need about a cup of yucca flour (farinha de mandioca) for the pirão.
The stew does not take very long to cook so be at the ready with your ingredients and cooked rice. You may want to fuss over a salad in advance. The pirão is quick and can be made after the moqueca is simmering. Just be mindful that once you add the fish and then the shrimp to the stew you don’t want to cook the crap out of it. Less is more when it comes to cooking fresh seafood.
OMG – I’m drooling just typing this.
Set the table or just call your family to serve themselves from the pots on the stove. Fish and shrimp moqueca, rice, pirão and a bright salad. It doesn’t get any better than that!



Key Terms…
  • clay pot ↔ panela de barro
  • excite ↔ estimula, anima
  • as much as ↔ tanto quanto
  • seafood ↔ frutos do mar
  • rice ↔ arroz
  • tasty ↔ saboroso
  • fresh salad ↔ salada fresca
  • died and gone to heaven ↔ morri e foi para o céu
  • cooked ↔ cozinhado
  • stone pots ↔ panelas de pedra
  • remarkable ↔ notável, extraordinário
  • folks ↔ pessoas
  • born and raised ↔ nascido e criado
  • not all too surprising ↔ não muito surpreendente
  • Sugarloaf ↔ Pão de Açúcar
  • To be fair ↔ Para ser justo
  • Alcatraz Island ↔ Ilha de Alcatraz (um prisão, veja fotos)
  • At any rate ↔ De qualquer maneira
  • craving for ↔ desejo/vontade de
  • mouth watering ↔ que dá água na boca
  • what he has been missing ↔ …
  • available ↔ disponível
  • swimming with ↔ cheio de (no molho)
  • plump ↔ roliço (cheio e grande)
  • shrimp ↔ camarão
  • going for ↔ indo atrás; tentando fazer ou conseguir
  • full on ↔ “em cheio”, “100%”
  • mussels ↔ mexilhões
  • clams ↔ molusco
  • squid ↔ lula
  • polluted bay ↔ poluída baía
  • near-certain ↔ quase-certo (quase garantido a ser)
  • rubbery ↔ borrachuda
  • over cooking ↔ cozinhar demais
  • stew ↔ ensopado
  • after all ↔ afinal
  • super tricky ↔ super-complicado
  • when it comes to ↔ quando se trata de
  • perused ↔ passeou olhando para coisas (às vezes sem comprar)
  • numerous stands ↔ numerosas bancadas
  • hawking ↔ vendendo (na rua)
  • cutest fish monger ↔ mais bonito vendedor de peixe
  • spot ↔ ver, localizar
  • morning catch ↔ pescaria feita pela manhã
  • crustaceans ↔ crustáceos
  • decent price ↔ preço razoável
  • even ↔ exato
  • steaks ↔ filé
  • overall ↔ no balanço final
  • firm flesh ↔ carne firme
  • holds its shape ↔ mantenha a sua forma
  • the first order of business ↔ a primeira coisa para fazer
  • shell ↔ descascar
  • de-vein ↔ tirar veias
  • boiled ↔ fervei
  • onion ↔ cebola
  • celery ↔ aipo
  • bay leaf ↔ folha de louro
  • pepper ↔ pimenta
  • broth ↔ caldo
  • looking up ↔ procurar
  • cross referenced ↔ cruzei referencias
  • feel your way around ↔ apalpar; procurar um caminho (fazer o que quiser)
  • do what pleases you ↔ fazer o que lhe agrada
  • running the risk ↔ correr o risco
  • ruining ↔ estragar
  • green pepper ↔ pimenta verde
  • sliced ↔ fatiado
  • cloves of garlic ↔ dentes de alho
  • crushed ↔ esmagado
  • seeded ↔ descaroçados
  • sliced crosswise ↔ em fatias
  • chopped fine ↔ picado fino
  • cilantro ↔ coentro
  • fuss over ↔ ocupar-se com
  • simmering ↔ fervendo (devagar)
  • be mindful ↔ seja atento
  • cook the crap out of it ↔ cozinhar demais
  • drooling ↔ babando
  • Set the table ↔ Ponha a mesa
  • stove ↔ fogão
  • bright ↔ brilhante (cores fortes)


excite estimula, anima
O basquete é um jogo emocionante , palpitante , de muita emoção , muita adrenalina . ↔Basketball is an exciting game
tasty saboroso
madurinhas e gostosas ↔ripe and tastey
remarkable notável, extraordinário
Competing in the Olympics is a remarkable achievement.
The girl has a remarkable talent.
Alcatraz Island Ilha de Alcatraz (um prisão, veja fotos)
craving for desejo/vontade de
Woke up with an extreme craving for Starbucks…what else is new?
She was finally getting the attention she was craving for so long- the attention that she had deserved for so long.
Senri Shiki has always had a craving for blood but what happens when it becomes more than just a craving?
what he has been missing
General, I have a treat for you. Something you may have been missing.
My friend is trying to explain to you that we have been missing
available disponível
o gerente pode me atender? ↔is the manager available?
todos os recursos à sua disposição ↔every available means
plump roliço (cheio e grande)
also… plump
a “polite” way of calling somebody fat.

” oh don’t worry, you’re just a little plump.”

going for indo atrás; tentando fazer ou conseguir
She was going for (indo atrás) Obama’s weakness, his supposed lack of appropriate experience.  
A bed at the Park South, a chic property near Union Square, was going for (vendendo por) $179.  
On Friday, Joshua will test for that Tae Kwon Do belt he was going for (tentando conseguir) last year.  
Maybe so, but I suspect Shakespeare was going for (indo atrás, tentendo fazer rir) laughs when he wrote that line.  
full on “em cheio”, “100%”
Pedal to the metal, full-on, all of it or none of it.
– And, like, her nails are full-on chipped. – So trailer park.
A full-on fight to the death,
when it comes to quando se trata de
When it comes to politics, I know nothing. ↔Quando o assunto é política, eu não sei nada.
When it comes to sports, John is very good. ↔Quando se trata de esportes, John é muito bom.
When it comes to baseball, I don’t know much. ↔Em se tratando de baseball, não sei muito a respeito.
perused passeou olhando para coisas (às vezes sem comprar)
…but perhaps, with all your jetting around, you’ve not perused (folhear) today’s headlines.
hawking vendendo (na rua)
▪ Vendors were hawking soda and hot dogs.
cutest fish monger mais bonito vendedor de peixe

monger: A dealer in a specific commodity, normally used in combination

…costermonger, fishmonger, ironmonger

also… A person promoting something undesirable, always used in combination
…warmonger, sleazemonger
spot ver, localizar
Tink began to look around to see if she could spot Terence but had no luck
When I knew where he lived, I went to see if I could spot him before contacting him.  
morning catch pescaria feita pela manhã
The dedicated fishermen set out whistling a merry tune, with their sturdy nets, to the docks to fish for the morning’s catch.
Every morning around this time, the fishermen landed their early morning catch along with the ever present cackling seagulls.
Did you catch any fish in the river? ↔Você pegou algum peixe no rio?
Tom went fishing, but didn’t catch anything. ↔Tom foi pescar, mas não pegou nada.
overall no balanço final
He scored highest overall.
She figured out what it would cost overall. [=altogether]
He made a few mistakes but did well overall.
Overall, the project was successful.
desempenho geral ↔overall performance
the first order of business a primeira coisa para fazer
Nossa primeira missão é encontrar uma mesa,” ele aconselhou. ↔The first order of business is to find a table,” he counseled.
Não é porque sabem que a primeira prioridade é estabelecer a sua segurança? ↔Isn’t it because they know the first order of business is establishing security?
sliced crosswise em fatias
simmering fervendo (devagar)
To cause to cook or to cause to undergo heating slowly at or below the boiling point.
be mindful seja atento
Investors should be mindful of current political trends.
drooling babando
to show admiration or desire for something in an exaggerated way
Everyone was drooling over his new car.


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