Vegan Moqueca

Vegan Moqueca

Plant-based living is sweeping the world, and where traditional recipes were once considered sacrosanct, many are now open to adapting fish and meat-based recipes to plant-based. So here is moqueca veganised!

I was a bit nervous about adapting this recipe because these traditional recipes are often cherished dearly as a national heritage. However, veganism is becoming more popular everywhere, including Brazil – and moqueca is a popular dish!

And many Brazilians are desperate to learn how to adapt their own cuisine to one that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. So I made this with close supervision from a Brazilian foodie who loves his seafood and beef! I can tell you, I was nervous about him hitting the sauce with his spoon!

He loved it! He said the underlying flavours were very close, despite the traditional seafood elements completely eliminated. How did I do this? I added a touch of miso paste! It’s not the same, I know, but it gives something to a dish that seemed to work. Just be careful with it, as miso will dominate if you let it.

There are some missing ingredients (other than fish!). The obvious one is red palm oil! It is traditional and gives a distinct colour and flavour to the dish, but Hell will freeze over before I start recommending we use any palm oil!

It’s not healthy for us nor the planet. Most palm oil is not cultivated sustainably, so I prefer to leave it well alone. But you make your own choice and use if you wish – it does, after-all, come from a plant.

However, I do think using paprika and olive oil are a reasonably good substitute, although I accept that red palm oil flavour is too distinct to replace. As long as the stew at the end tastes amazing, who cares? The world isn’t where it is now without changes made along the way.

So please have a go, let me know what you think, and if you’re Brazilian and adapted it further, let me know what you did to make it even better!



Seb Bowden
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Brazilian
Servings 4 people


  • 2 small brown onion finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil use standard olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 cm ginger use peeled fresh root ginger, you're looking for an equal ratio of ginger to garlic
  • 1-2 red chillies I used finger chillies. You don't want heat, but just enough to compliment the tomato. Finely chop
  • 1 lime zest
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 500 ml coconut milk use high extract or make your own if you can
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp miso paste optional
  • 1/2 tsp nori flakes optional. Try less, taste, try more taste…
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves I prefer spinach! But coriander is traditional
  • 4 large tomatoes de-seeded and cubed
  • 300 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tin hearts of palm In the UK, Green Giant sell this in tins. In different countries, you might be able to buy it fresh. You'll need to slice them before adding to the moqueca
  • 350 g firm tofu cubed and roasted for about 10 minutes
  • 1 red bell or romano pepper Cut into rings
  • 1 yellow or orange bell or romano pepper Cut into rings
  • 1 small butternut squash peeled, cubed and roasted


  • Using a pestal and mortar, create a paste of the ginger, garlic, chilli and lime zest. You can use a blender, but add a little olive oil to help the blades create a paste. Don't use water, or just use a small amount. Oil carries flavour, water dilutes it.
  • Drain and cube the tofu, peel and cube the squash. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until firm and slightly browning
  • In a large pan, saute the onions until lightly browned then add the garlic, ginger, chilli and lime zest. Cook for about a minute, stirring and careful not to allow to burn.
  • Add the tomatoes and stock and cook down a little, until the stew is becoming a bit dry.
  • Now add the lime juice, coconut milk, paprika, miso and nori if using,
  • Add the chopped peppers and cook for about 2-3 minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients, taste, season as required
  • Serve with white fluffy rice
Keyword Brazil, Coconut, Garlic, Ginger, Lime, Moqueca

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