Joe Austin
Brazilian fish stew.Joe Austin
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Brazil in a Bowl

Just in time for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, cook up this rich Brazilian fish stew

by
Joan Nathan
July 27, 2016
Joe Austin
Brazilian fish stew.Joe Austin

When I visited my daughter Daniela in Rio de Janeiro during her junior year abroad, like every visiting parent, I asked where she wanted to eat. She did not hesitate: a seafood restaurant specializing in food from the coastal state of Bahia. And that’s where we tasted moqueca de peixe for the first time.

Bahia, like many parts of Brazil, has a very old Jewish community that started with conversos who came over with the early explorers in the 1500s, only to be often delivered into the hands of the Inquisition and sent back to Portugal to face an auto da fe. Secret Jews remained in the region—often eating pork to deflect suspicion—although most moved to the city of Recife, then under Dutch control, in the 1600s. When the Portuguese took Recife, the Jews left; 23 of them sailed to America, establishing the first Jewish community in New York in 1654.

Today, in a population of 13 million people, there are fewer than a thousand Jews in Bahia, most of them in the city of Salvador. But Jewish cooks continue to draw inspiration from the area’s cuisine. This recipe for fish stew, a Brazilian favorite, was inspired by Brazilian-American cookbook writer Letitia Moreinos Schwartz and Jewish Brazilian social entrepreneur David Hertz, who started an organization called Gastronomiva, where he encourages impoverished young adults from Brazil’s poorest neighborhoods to enter the hospitality field. It’s a perfect recipe for a summer meal—perhaps something to enjoy while you’re watching the Rio Olympics.

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Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

The Recipe


Mocqueca de Peixe - Brazilian Fish Stew

Mocqueca de Peixe - Brazilian Fish Stew

Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

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