July 22, 2008

When Moqueca met Ceviche

For the second installment of our culinary tour of Rio, we visited the leafy neighborhood of Gávea, in the Zona Sul of Rio, and teamed up with Eric Nako and Cristiano Lanna, two young Brazilian chefs who helped us spice up an old Brazilian classic dish.

Moqueca is a very popular dish in Brazilian Cooking. It comes from Bahia and has its roots in Africa, as most of Bahian food does. It’s usually made by frying onions, peppers and tomatoes as a base, then adding the fish, the fresh coriander, coconut milk and palm oil (dendê) at the last minute. But the clever chaps at Cozinha Criativa taught me a much lighter version, using the same technique used to make the Peruvian dish ‘Ceviche’, which uses chillies and lemon juice to cook the delicate flesh of white fish.

The result is this wonderful is this wonderfully fresh tasting starter, full of colours and textures, which really awakens the palate and sets you up for a great meal.

The recipe is dead easy to prepare and takes very little ‘cooking’ time. Although we’re using a typical Brazilian fish (the Robalo), any white fish with a firm flesh will do (sea bream, sea bass, halibut, groupa). The only slightly out of the ordinary ingredient is the ‘Dendê Oil’ (palm oil). I recommend afro-carebean grocers. Here in London, it’s quite easy to find as people from Nigeria and Ghana use it a lot.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 600g of white fish with a firm flesh (tilapia, sea bream, sea bass, monkfish)
  • The juice of 6 limes
  • ½ yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 to 4 red chilis
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup of chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • a couple of dashes of Tobasco
  • palm oil (Dendê)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 250 ml of Cachaça
  • How to make it:

    Cut the fish in small cubes (around 1.5cm square)
    Chop the onion into fine strips
    Remove the seeds from the chilies and chop in thin strips
    Cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters
    Chop the coriander (stalks, root and all)
    Save some of the fresh materials aside to garnish the dish later

    Mix all the ingredients – apart from the Palm Oil and the cachaça – in a bowl and leave to cure for 5 minutes. After the fish has cured on the outside (flesh turns bright white), drain the marinate using a sieve and save the excess liquid. Server in a shallow cup (like a martini glass) or bowl with a an extra dash of coconut milk, a few drops of Palm Oil and some of the fresh garnish on top.

    Mix the reserved marinate juice with the cachaça and serve on a separate martini glass garnished with a small red chili.

    Many thanks…

    We are very grateful to TAP Portugal who flew us down to the Marvellous City in its brand new fleet. We definitely recommend them if you’re thinking of going to Brazil as they fly 67 weekly flights to 8 destinations in the country and are frequently more cost competitive than other carriers. Check out for prices, destinations and availability.

    Big thanks also go to Eric Nako and Cristiano Lannas from Cozinha Criativa for being so welcoming and accommodating – especially as it was Eric’s birthday.

    The tracks in the clip are from Bottletop’s Sound Affects – Brazil. Bottletop is wonderful charity who use fashion and music to fund projects which have a positive impact on the health and well-being of young people world-wide. To find out more about their work, where to buy the CD and how to make a donation visit

    About this author

    17 Comments - View all

    Feta And Arepa · Brazilian Chicken Moqueca & Salad with Avocado Dressing 9:28am on March 2, 2011

    [...] and even some with chicken. One of the recipes I ran across was a really nice spin on moqueca from Nando from Cuca Basurca: Moqueca Ceviche Fish Recipe, it is a really nicely done video that will have you drooling for [...]

    17 CommentsX
    Cesar Oliveira 1:57am on July 30, 2008

    Nando, brilhante!!!!!!!!!!
    Cesar “VS Escola” Oliveira

    Cesar Oliveira 1:57am on July 30, 2008

    Onde se leu “escola”, leia-se “escala”…

    Andrea de Paula 2:59pm on August 1, 2008

    Parabéns! Ficou lindo! Brilhante! Maravilhoso e engraçado!
    Adoreeeeeei! :-)

    renato saavedra 6:52pm on August 1, 2008

    muito legal nando, foi uma pena eu nao ter conseguido te encontrar quando estive em londres. Foi muito corrido, mas da proxima vez a gente conversa e troca receitas!!!!

    um abraço
    desde Madrid

    rolando 5:28am on August 4, 2008

    Nando, you are a genious !!!. You makes us dream of Brazil, food and brazilian people. What a great combination. All of us here at home enjoy everyone of your podcasts and we now have another recipe to try. Many thanks for the inspiration.
    Kind regards

    stela 12:18am on August 5, 2008

    Hi Nando Cuca! Hi Erik!
    I wonder if this ceviche will work if I use salmon and olive oil instead of robalo and dende oil.
    I’m gonna try it and tell you later…great recipe! cheers!

    stela 12:19am on August 5, 2008

    Hi nando Cuca, hi Eric,
    I wonder if i can make the ceviche using salmon and olive oil instead of robalo and dende oil. I’ll try and tell you later, OK?
    cheers! Great recipe!

    Marcia Fialho 5:46pm on August 8, 2008

    Guys, I was there and I tried it, it tastes really great!!!

    MISSY MOOO 12:39am on August 10, 2008


    Andreia Santos 9:33pm on August 11, 2008

    Oi Nando,
    Eu vi seu filme no Youtube sobre moqueca, eu adoro ver programas sobre como fazer comida, mas quando me deparei com o nome moqueca que e um nome dado pelos capixabas, originalmente, um prato tipicamente criado aqui no Estado ES, precisamente na capital desse Estado, Vitoria, que significa como fazer a moqueca capixaba que na verdade engloba inumeros fatores e alguns dos ingredientes citados na sua receita mas nao posso dizer que sua receita seja moqueca mas sim peixada.

    Moqueca tem que ter peixe badejo, Dourado ou semelhante peixe de agua de sal de carne branca.

    Panela de barro,

    Azeite de oliva ou oleo, alho, tomates frescos, coentro fresco, e cebolas brancas frescas tudo junto na panela de barro bem aquecida e cozido em 15 mn no fogo bem quente. o Tomate para nao virar agua tem que ser maduro e bem vermelho. sal e pimenta a gosto..

    Mas sua receita e uma delicia tambem, apenas nao posso deixar que o nome moqueca seja associado a todas as receitas de peixe que sao feitas no Brasil.


    Lenny 9:45am on December 22, 2008

    Wow, Nando, you were right: you do make skinning a fish look so very easy. I definitely should have used this technique for my No-Fuss Fish Pie ( I’ll try it your way next time! Cheers, Lenny.

    Luciana 6:49pm on July 3, 2009

    Hi there
    This is great! Thank you so much for this video. I teach Portuguese to people all over the world and a link to this post in certainly going on my blog.

    Magic of Spice 2:49am on June 12, 2010

    Wonderful food, very lively!

    valentina 2:27pm on August 4, 2010

    Nando, dende can be at GArcia’s the spanish deli in Portobello.

    Matina 2:50pm on January 21, 2011

    I was looking for a recipe to use the moqueca pot a brazilian friend gave me, and I reached your post. This recipe looks so delicious, that i will just have to try it and use my beautiful pot another day!! Do you have a favorite moqueca recipe??

    A very easy recipe, even if you don’t own a pressure cooker....
    A great recipe from a new book on Lebanese cooking....
    Of all the culinary passions I could have picked up in Lisbon…...
    Make perfect fluffy flavoursome rice every time....
    This is a delicious rich stew from the South West of Brazil....
    Learn how to make this delicious break in minutes. Great video recipe....
    My friend Nadine Horn came to visit and in the morning we decided to do a small video showing off this weird coffee contraption I bought at the local Sainsbury’s. Actually the...
    Of course the very best way to have Picanha is having it sliced directly into your plate at some of the top Churrascarias in Rio, São Paulo or in one...
    When is a Brazilian BBQ place not a Brazilian BBQ place?...
    My good friend Chris Stanton, who came to Rio with me in April last year, invited me to try a new Churrascaria in Clapham North. It was a very fortuitous...
    Escondidinho de carne seca (Escondidinho means literally: ‘Little hidden one’) is a very famous North Easter recipe but can be found in restaurants and bars up and down the country....
    Last time we went to Rio, we met up with Andre Paranhos and his fellow feijoada reviewers who are in a heroic mission to try every Feijoada in Rio de...
    One of my favourite dessers from Brazil. It’s simple, amazingly sweet and so flavoursome – packed with the true flavours of Brazil....
    Kibe is a Middle Eastern snack sold in practically every street bar in Rio as well as on the beaches. It’s a simple and wholesome snack and it can come...
    A very simple and cheap Brazilian recipe. But I managed to posh it up a bit by adding some prawns....
    A very famous recipe of gooey chocolate truffles which kids (of all ages) will adore....
    A wonderfully fresh tasting starter, full of colours and textures, which really awakens the palate and sets you up for a great meal....
    The first in our series shot in Rio earlier in the year. Guava Soufflé, a delicious, sophisticated, and yet very simple to prepare treat....
    Bobó de Camarão is now a firm fixture in any Typical Brazilian restaurant. It’s delicious and simple dish to prepare, the only tricky ingredient to find being cassava....
    The story goes that the Portuguese farm owners would keep the best parts of pork for themselves and send the offcuts to the slave house to be added to a...
    This recipe is by far the easiest thing you can use cassava for. Because of its massive starch content, cassava makes really great chunky and cracking crispy chips. But there...
    Everybody knows the ‘Caipirinha’ by now. It’s the the drinks menu of not only Brazilian bars, but most modern bars of any denomination. So now that our national drink has...
    Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail. Not only you can find it in any Brazilian restaurant but it also works as our most talented worldwide ambassador....
    A delicious and ‘digestive’ dessert. Ideal if you’ve been having a lot of red meat lately....
    Despite their normal rivalry in the football fields, there is at least one thing in which Argentinians and Brazilians agree....
    Quindim actually means ‘girlish charms’. This is a wonderful clash of the Portuguese and African sides of Brazil and a very simple recipe to make....
    Cuca tries out a takeaway barbecue grill. One of those cheap things you buy from the supermarket and use when you to a picnic. Will it work?...
    A proper Brazilian Barbecue is served on the spit and the waiter cuts the thin slices of meat straight onto your plate. For me, there’s no other cut for this...
    The Gorgeous TJ visits Cuca and learns how to prepare a delicious Brazilian Cocktail made from frozen coconut milk....
    Some title Some author
    Some excerpt
    A very easy recipe, even if you don’t own a pressure cooker....