Moqueca (Seafood & Coconut Chowder)


This seafood stew from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, dates back hundreds of years and reflects the region's diverse population and history. It merges the African ingredients of dendê (red palm oil) and coconut milk with indigenous traditions of preparing seafood in clay pots over coals. Dendê is traditionally used for its rich flavor and beautiful red color, but you can use canola oil instead, as the tomato paste will still lend the dish a vibrant hue. Read more about the author's connection to this recipe in Soup—and Life—Lessons From My Grandma.

Moqueca (Seafood & Coconut Chowder)
Photo: Leigh Beisch
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 1 pound fresh crabmeat (preferably claw meat), cleaned and picked over

  • 1 pound raw shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined if desired

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 1 ½ tablespoons dendê (red palm oil; see Tip) or canola oil

  • 3 cups sliced red bell peppers

  • 2 ½ cups sliced green bell peppers

  • 2 ½ cups sliced red onions

  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ¾ teaspoon ground pepper

  • 2 14-ounce cans coconut milk

  • 2 cups clam juice or fish stock

  • 4 cups cooked brown rice


  1. Combine crab, shrimp and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add red peppers, green peppers and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add cilantro, garlic, tomato paste, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and clam juice (or fish stock) and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the peppers are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Add the crab and shrimp and return to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve the chowder over rice. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.


Tip: Dendê (red palm oil) gets its vibrant color from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm tree. It is not the same as palm kernel oil, which is made from the seeds, not the pulp. Choose cold-pressed, unrefined red palm oil that bears a Palm Done Right seal of approval.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

485 Calories
26g Fat
39g Carbs
28g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 485
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 28g 56%
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 686mg 30%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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