Dora’s Moqueca Prawn Stew


The Olympic Games are still in full swing in Rio – and by now many of us will have already “square eyes” for watching too much television at unusual and peculiar hours!!!

Rio – Brazil – Moqueca – all this and much more is taking me on a wonderful ‘memory-into-my-past’ journey all the way back again to my years in Trinidad/W.I.

I tasted Moqueca for the very first time in the house of the then Brazilian Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago and immediately ‘fell in love’ with this dish (loving prawns of course as I do). From then on I spent many many happy hours in her Residence down by the Sea, listening to beautiful soft samba music and listening to her talking to me about this and that in her charming deep voice. She had no children and I think in a way very shortly after my arrival on the Islands I became a sort of substitute child to her – and I had no objection, in fact loving every moment of this. She became my close trusted friend – my mentor on this, sometimes difficult, diplomatic parquet and I could not have wished for a better and sweeter one. But sadly due to illness she had to leave this earth far too early – but certainly never my gratitude nor my fond memories. So Dora, the posting of this ‘your’ Moqueca is for you. Obrigado!!

I am talking here about Ambassador Dora Alencar Vasconcellos – who was already a very well-known Poet in her own country before she accepted this diplomatic post and one of her most famous poems “Canção do Amor” (Love song) was set to music by Heitor Villa-Lobos.


To make this Moqueca like in my pictures you will need:
½ kg prawns, cleaned and deveined


½ x of large capsicum, cut into “matchsticks”
½ x of large green capsicum, cut into “matchsticks”
½ x of large yellow capsicum, cut into “matchsticks”
5 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x medium sized onions, finely chopped
2 x large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into “matchsticks


½ x cup of coconut milk, medium thickness
2-3 x good splashes of Fish Sauce
100 ml oil, more or less (I used Coconut oil here)
Some fresh lime/lemon juice,
¾ x Tbsp of red chilli flakes (we always use a bit more!)
A pinch of salt and paprika- (or chilli-) powder
1 good fish/prawn stock cube (Knorr is good) or fresh stock if you have it ready
Generous amount of fresh coriander, finely chopped

How to cook this:
At least a couple of hours before you start cooking start marinating the prawns.

Into a bowl add 3-4 Tbsp of lime/lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a pinch of paprika (or chilli) powder – optional – and the sliced garlic. Mix all this (best with your clean hands), cover and keep in fridge until needed.

Take Wok, using medium heat, add oil, onions and fry for a few minutes, and follow this with all your capsicum/sweet peppers, tomatoes,


pinch of salt


and all your chilli flakes. Mix gently and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Now taste this; your vegetables should not be mushy but just a little bit ‘undercooked’ still. Add coconut milk, stir, reduce heat to simmer!!, cover and cook maybe for another 10 minutes, not more.


Keep checking on vegetables and spices. Take all your prawns with the marinate and add this to the wok.


Check – you might need some more lemon/lime juice at this stage. When prawns turn pink check once again. Your Moqueca should be done by now. Sprinkle a very generous amount of fresh coriander of your dish before serving.


Fluffy Basmati rice is best with this. Dora gave me a tip: add a couple Tbsp (or a cube) of prawns/fish stock to the boiling rice – this gives the rice a very subtle flavour.

Note: The beauty of this dish is, that you just add more of the above mentioned vegetables and prawns – and also add some nice firm fish cubes (no bones!) – a real feast – trust me!


Bom apetite – Guten Appetit – Enjoy your meal!

For you who wish to listen to some more Brazilian music here is a special link:

the famous Astrud Gilberto with Stan Getz with her most popular song “The Girl from Ipanema” – surely there are a number of you who still remember this song!!!



33 thoughts on “Dora’s Moqueca Prawn Stew

    • 🙂 🙂 – that’s alright Jo, there are some people who do not like prawns (I just love them!!!) but, Dora has served her Moqueca also mixed with some beautiful firm fish (Seabass is good) – just leave prawns out, but marination is importand. And soon I will post one of Jo’s special fishcurry here, ok? Take care, Carina

  1. A wonderful post – a brilliant poet and extraordinary song. You have sent me on a mini research project and have reminded me that friendships are truly a gift – what gives our lives meaning and beauty.

    • Rebecca, a big hug comes your way for your lovely comment. I only wish I could speak/understand portuguese in order to understand her words!! If you have come up with something interesting on your research tour, please send me the link.

    • Oh Anna, what a very sweet comment – I do appreciate this, made me smile. Sao Paulo!? Never been to that part of the world (and now never will), but Dora talked to me a lot about her beloved country. Sadly, in a way, there was no computer/internet/cyberspace et al around in her time and of course I never knew then that I would one day start writing my foodblog. How I would have picked her brain (and that of her brazilian cook!) regarding so many things, especially recipes. I made her Moqueca from memory (hope I got it right – but we like it!!!) :). Lucky you, you are able to understand the words of ‘her’ song. Ciao Carina

  2. So, so shall say a huge ‘thank you’ to you and your darling husband for those two great, and to me, new videos? Fantastic and hope to repost in a day or two! Meanwhile I DO have square eyes: Rio is time wise such an impossible follow-on for us in Australia, but when a very classy 18-year-old wins the blue riband event of the swim meet, how does one not stop work and stay away? Absolutely love your prawn/capsicum recipe . . . . have copied and shall try as soon as I can get hold of some fresh prawns here in the country . . .

    • Eha – what a sweet comment and I am especially touched you mentioned Jo – we do appreciate each others help, comments etc. 🙂 and he is the one who does the final posting for me, so all the credit for the “artwork” and especially his beautiful banners, goes entirely to him.! I watched your (and other) swimming videos a few times – what an achievement! And still so young. I found it touching that his parents flew all the way to Rio to support him and ended up sharing this great win – they must be so proud. Like you, I too am not too keen on the word “stew” here, but….that’s what we called it in T & T and I think somehow it got stuck in my brain. That Moqueca is so delicious, I will be making it again for Sunday Lunch 🙂

  3. Hallo Leya – I wondered too why I had not seen you here for some time 🙂 Glad you found me again and that the new “follow” works this time – please do let me know. WP is playing up with a number of people (and me, too) for some time now – so a number of us keep checking. Hope you are well!?

  4. Sorry for latish reply Jeff – WP is really playing around – and what can we do about it, other then write to them!? I send my reply early this morning, now it’s bedtime and my reply is lost in cyberspace somewhere. Anyhow -thank you Jeff – glad you enjoyed this one. See you soon.

  5. Wow, what an unexpected connection. I’ve loved Villa-Lobos’s Floresta do Amazonas for half a century. From the record album I knew that Dora Vasconcellos had written the words, but in all these years I’ve never run into anyone familiar with the pieces, much less someone who actually knew either of the two people.

    Here’s the Bidú Sayão version I know so well.

    • oh Steve, I can hardly believe what I just read.:) 🙂 🙂 For me as well, you are the first person I “have met” who actually knows of Dora Vasconcellos, the Poet!!!! I assume you understand her language, which sadly I can not. Thank you for drawing my attention to “Bidy Sayao”.

      • Yes, I studied Portuguese for a couple of years, including a summer spent in Lisbon in 1966.

        In I think 1998 I was driving outside of Austin one day and listening to the local classical radio station, which was retransmitting a live performance from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. During an intermission the announcer sent his birthday greetings to Bidú Sayão, and I was amazed to learn she was still alive. I’d assumed she’d died many years earlier. I found out she was living in the American state of Maine and somehow looked up her phone number. I called and asked if I could speak with her but the woman on the phone said that wouldn’t be possible. She must have been ill then, perhaps no longer mentally competent, and she died in 1999 at almost 97 years of age.

        Here’s more on Bidú Sayão:

  6. Your Moqueca Prawn Stew is making me very hungry even though I just had dinner. Will make as soon as I can get my hands on some good quality prawns. Great tribute to a dear friend, thanks for sharing.

    • 🙂 🙂 sorry, my friend, I did not want to make you rush into your kitchen again (you WILL have to take it easy for a while now, remember) – but I hope you will be able to make the Moqueca once you are better again. Just read Steve’s comment above – how small this world has become now! Hugs and take care.

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