Creamy Shrimp and Coconut Stew

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.

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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
  • salt


  1. 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.
  2. Bring 2 cups water to the boil.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly until it becomes chalky.
  5. 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.
  6. Turn off the heat, cover completely and let the rice stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

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!

Yield: 4 servings

Creamy Shrimp and Coconut Stew

Creamy Shrimp and Coconut Stew

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.

Prep Time 5 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes


  • 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


    1. Soak the dried shrimp in lots of cold water for about 4 hours.
    2. Drain, then add to a blender with 4 cups fresh water. Process until smooth.
    3. Transfer to a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes to make a flavourful shrimp broth. Remove from heat and strain.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Serve over Brazilian style white rice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


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.

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  1. Korena in the Kitchen

    Bravo, you killed it this month! Kudos on sourcing all those specialty ingredients, too. Looks delicious!


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Truthfully, I’m a little nervous about the Ethiopian theme…though we do have several African food stores, I’ve been in a few and they aren’t extremely helpful. I’d better start doing some research!

  2. The Finer Cookie/Kim

    Hi Bernice! Boy this looks like a good dish. Rehydrating dried shrimp must deliver on the flavour. I haven’t used anatto in years. This recipe is a go. Thanks.


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Yeah, for sure! I think this might be a regular thing now when I need some shrimp or fish stock. It’s pretty easy, though a touch stinky lol.

  3. thefoodblognet

    This challenge sounds like so much fun! It sounds like you had a lot of work cut out for you to make this dish, but wow, it was obviously worth the effort. I love the flavours and it looks amazing! Thanks for sharing.


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you so much! To be honest I enjoy the challenge, though now I’m not sure what to do with the extra ingredients. More research?

  4. My Kitchen Love

    Bernice!! This looks so delightful!! It’s great you mentioned where to buy the dried shrimp; I’ll have to head out and pick some up for this recipe. I love the mix of flavours and I know my whole family will love it.


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Yeah, I wasn’t too excited about heading down to Chinatown and pointing at the dried shrimp in a bulk box on the floor…not my cup of tea. These were all nicely packaged, though they more than likely came from the same place!

  5. chef mimi

    OMG this sounds so so good! I love the ingredients, although I’ve never seen palm oil…


    1. dishnthekitchen

      The red palm oil was a first for me too! It’s quite pretty, really.

  6. sugarlovespices

    It looks great, Bernice! Love the colors you obtained and I’m sure the flavor was amazing! It wasn’t an easy Country to work with, but so exciting!!


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Thank you! The red palm oil really is quite something. Can’t wait to cook with it again!
      I really had to search for the ingredients here. Luckily we have some great Mexican food stores, which sell the same items.

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