Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian seafood stew that has a long history. It is composed of fish, tomatoes, garlic, onions and cilantro, with no water added. Moqueca from Bahia is influenced by African cuisine, and in addition to the traditional ingredients, dende, or palm oil, coconut milk, and shrimp are added to the stew.

I decided to try a Moqueca Baiana recipe from Daniel Boulud, and turned out to be a creamy, almost curry like soup, packed with shrimp and squid, topped with tomatoes and hearts of palm. I made it for a weekday meal, but I think I would definitely make it again for a crowd.

The shrimp is shelled and devined and mixed together the the rest of the seafood in a marinade of smoked paprika, garlic, ginger and dende oil ( I substituted peanut oil).

The seafood is covered and refrigerated for at least 4 hours. In the meantime, a stock is made out of shrimp shell, onion, ginger, cilantro stems, white wine vinegar, thyme and water. The stock is brought to a boil, and simmered for 45 minutes, then strained.

To make the soup, a roux of oil and flour is heated and cooked over low heat until foamy.

Coconut milk and the shrimp stock is added to the pot and simmered for 5 minutes, and the soup is set aside and kept warm.

In another large pot, onion and tomatoes are sauteed until softened.

The marinated seafood is added to the pot and cooked for 2 minutes.

Soup is added to the pot and simmered until the seafood is cooked through, and the cilantro leaves are added to the pot.

To make the toppings for the soup, fresh chopped tomatoes and heart of palm is cooked over high heat in a small pan for 1 minute. The tomatoes and heart of palm is added to the soup.

I made coconut cashew rice to go with the stew, which is basically cooked Basmati rice heated over medium heat with roasted cashew and toasted coconut flakes.

To serve, the rice is divided in bowls, and the seafood soup is ladled over the rice and topped with extra hearts of palm and tomatoes.

Brazilian Seafood Soup (Moqueca):
Coconut Cashew Rice: