MOQUECA is a typical dish from the states of Bahia and Espírito Santo that incorporates Brazilian native Indian, African and Portuguese cookery. MOQUECA is type of seafood ragout or stew made of any combination of fish and shellfish. The name of this dish is derived from the Indian word – POKEKAS – dishes wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over charcoal. Africans brought over to Brazil as slaves and working as cooks in the kitchen of the Big House sugar plantation, modified the indigenous dishes.
Today MOQUECAS are cooked on top of the stove in a clay pot. The seafood is poached in a rich broth which is seasoned with tomatoes, cilantro, onions and sweet peppers. Coconut milk, dende oil – palm oil – or a zest of hot sauce (if you dare) can be also in the sauce for flavor variation.
Families will feel right at home at this restaurant with its kid-friendly menu and atmosphere. Seating is readily available at Muqueca Restaurant for those with large parties. Gluten-free and low-fat eaters will enjoy the menu at Muqueca Restaurant.
Fátima “Fafa” Langa was born in Espírito Santo, on the southeast coast of Brazil. Early in her adult life, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a tour guide for visiting tourists.
Fafa uses a different kind of cooking that emphasizes long cooking times and indigenous tools. Fafa can take an entire day to make one pie filled with seafood and vegetables. She orders clay pots directly from Brazil to use in the kitchen.
The second phase of her life began when her husband, Antônio Gomes, was visiting Cambridge Massachusetts. Fafa had always dreamed of opening her own Brazilian restaurant, and in the area between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Antônio saw a little Brazilian buffet up for sale. It seemed like the perfect blank canvas upon which to create Fafa’s dream. Without Antônio, this dream could never become true!
The buffet was transformed into Muqueca, which aims to give Americans a taste of real Brazilian cuisine.
Host Margarita Martínez goes to Inman Square in Cambridge for a taste of Brazil at Muqueca. Chef Fátima “Fafa” Langa teaches her how to prepare three Brazilian favorites:
OUR CLAY POTS COME FROM VITÓRIA, BRAZIL and they have a 400 years old tradition.
Brazilian seafood stew in traditional clay pots is the main attraction at this bright, funky eatery.
They are made by the ‘Paneleiras de Goiabeiras’ – See Photos. The pots are made from a mixture of clay and mangrove tree sap. After the pots are shaped and dried, they are put through a bonfire. While it still hot, sap is re-applied, this seals and blackens the clay and it makes water resistant.
“…This is marvelous, distinctive food. The soups are excellent, especially fish soup thickened with yucca. Deep-fried red snapper, a whole fish with an olive in its eye socket, gets nicely gritty crunch from a cornmeal coating. Shrimp sauteed in garlic, olive oil, and cilantro makes an ideal light starter…”
“For “large, satisfying” portions of “Brazilian comfort food”, diners head to this Inman Square “treat” known especially for its way with “colorful, vibrant seafood dishes” like the eponymous stew served in a hot clay pot; the “festively decorated” space may be “small”, but it’s nonetheless a “nice”, “family-run place.”