Creamy Shrimp and Coconut Stew is a classic Brazilian recipe for a shrimp stew featuring a creamy coconut sauce scented with dried salt shrimp, colorau, and dendé.
After enjoying cooking my dish for the first ‘Around the World in Twelve Plates’ installment (Chinese Red Cooked Beef), I felt I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign up for the second round of adventure in February. As I waited eagerly for The Food Girl in Town‘s announcement of the next world cuisine, several subliminal suggestions ran through my head…how about Hawaiian, or Sri Lankan? Could the next country be Spain, or how about Iceland? Truly, I had no idea where I would be cooking from next. Then the announcement came and it was a bit of a shocker: Brazil.
Creamy Shrimp and Coconut Stew
I immediately started running through what I know about Brazilian cuisine in my head. It didn’t take long. Calgary has several Brazilian steakhouses and so I am familiar with the rodizio style of dining where you dine on all you can eat churrasco (grilled meat) which is served table-side and sliced directly onto your plate. I’ve been to a couple of these places and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to pull off a similar meat-fest at home, especially in the dead of winter.
During the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil, I watched countless hours of ‘the beautiful game’ and found myself getting hungry, or more accurately, thirsty for an authentic Brazilian caipirhina, which is a cocktail made with Brazilian rum, cachaça, fresh fruit, and a bit of sugar. It takes a fair amount of muddling, but all that work is certainly worth it. However, this is a food post, not a cocktail post so my limited experience would not do. I had to investigate further. A quick check at my closest Chapters, revealed absolutely NO suitable cookbooks at all. My next stop was the library and I had a bit more luck there, but after searching there were really only 3 books in the whole system, and only one of them was available. I put Brazilian Food (by Thiago Castanho) on hold and waited for it to arrive at my branch for pick up.
Annatto seeds, Korean Dried Salt Shrimp, re-hydrating the shrimp
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp onion; finely chopped
- 1 tsp garlic; finely chopped
- Rinse the rice several times in cold water, rubbing the grains between the palms of your hands inside a bowl, until the water turns clear. Drain thoroughly, and let the rice dry before using.
- Bring 2 cups water to the boil.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Sauté the onion and garlic over low heat until the onion is soft and the garlic a golden brown.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly until it becomes chalky.
- Pour the boiling water onto the rice and return to a boil. Add a bit of salt. Half cover the pan and cook over med-low heat until all the water has evaporated.
- Turn off the heat, cover completely and let the rice stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
The original recipe made enough for ten people so I halved all the ingredients (but strangely, doubled the rice!) for our small family. We enjoyed the flavour of the sauce, though the boys were a bit disappointed because they thought they were getting a curry. I picked this dish for it’s simplicity and colour, and it did not disappoint. The combination of the ground annatto and dendé oil really made this dish unique and beautiful (though I understand now why people buy it pre-ground, it’s worse for staining than turmeric!). The sauce is very subtle and sweet, with a great texture achieved by using the bread as a thickener. I would make this again, and might have to since I have plenty of ingredients left over in my pantry.
I spoke with chef Joao Dachery (from Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse) a few days later and he was impressed with the colour on the stew (of course I showed him a photo!) and gave me some important tips on cooking with dendé oil, mainly that it has a very low smoke point, so it is important to add it at the end for flavour and colour. He also told me I should try to make Moqueca, which is another typical Brazilian fish stew. Now I know what to do with the extra ingredients!
If you make this Creamy Shrimp and Coconut Stew recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section or in the ratings. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please share your photos and tag me on Instagram. I hope you like this recipe!
- 200 g dried salt shrimp
- half a day old baguette
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion; minced
- 1 clove garlic; minced
- 2 Tablespoons tomatoes; diced
- 1 mild chili pepper; seeded and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 450 g large shrimp; peeled and deveined
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground colorau (ground annatto/achiote)
- 1 Tablespoon dendé (red palm oil)
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Soak the dried shrimp in lots of cold water for about 4 hours.
- Drain, then add to a blender with 4 cups fresh water. Process until smooth.
- Transfer to a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes to make a flavourful shrimp broth. Remove from heat and strain.
- Tear the baguette into small pieces and add to a bowl. Pour coconut milk and 3/4 cup water over the bread and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, tomato, and chili pepper and sauté until softened. Add the bay leaves and the shrimp stock and heat until it begins to simmer.
- Gradually add the soaked bread mixture to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook 5 minutes until thickened or unit lit reaches a sauce-like consistency. Add the shrimp, cumin, colorau, dendé oil, and some black pepper.
- Reduce the heat and let it cook for 4 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the fresh herbs and season with a bit of salt, taking care not to add too much so that the sweet flavour of the sauce is masked.
- Serve over Brazilian style white rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 240mgSodium: 20778mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 31g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.