The Cecil Moqueca

By Marcus Samuelsson |

The Cecil is a unique culinary destination that highlights the foodways of the African Diaspora through it’s “Afro-Asian-American” menu, curated by restaurateur Alexander Smalls and Executive Chef Johnson “JJ” Johnson. This Moquaca recipe is a rich and insightful take on the traditional Brazilian stew dish.

Prep Details

Servings: 6-8

Prep time: 30M

Cooking time: 40M

Total time: 1H 10M


For the Moqueca

2 pounds yuca, peeled and medium diced

2 cups water

1 cup spinach

2 plum tomatoes

1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded

¼ cup grapeseed oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, medium diced

1 yellow onion, medium diced

1 celery stalk, medium diced

1 poblano pepper, medium diced

½ cup green curry paste

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 pound (1½ cups) okra, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch rings

8 cups chicken stock

½ cup fish sauce

4 kaffir lime leaves (preferably fresh)

8 ounces salt cod, soaked overnight

8 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste

For the Prawns

1 pound (12 medium) head-on prawns, peeled and deveined

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp lemon zest

Kosher salt , to taste

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

For Assembly

Steamed rice , for serving

Thinly sliced Thai basil , for garnish

Thinly sliced scallions , for garnish



For the Moqueca:

In a blender, combine three-quarters of the yuca with the water, spinach, tomatoes and jalapeño. Purée until smooth and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden for 1 minute. Add the carrots, onion, celery and poblano pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and caramelized for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the curry and tomato pastes, and cook until fragrant for 2 minutes.

To the pot, add the remaining quarter of the yuca, the reserved yuca purée, the okra, chicken stock, fish sauce and lime leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the yuca is tender and the liquid is thickened for 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small pot, cover the salt cod with cold water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Repeat this process 2 more times, then roughly chop the salt cod.

Add the salt cod and the smoked salmon to the stew, and cook until the fish is opaque, for 3 to 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Prawns:

In a medium bowl, toss the prawns with the parsley, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Season with salt. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the prawns and cook, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

For Assembly:

Divide steamed rice between bowls and ladle the stew over it. Top with 2 prawns and garnish with sliced Thai basil and scallions, then serve.