Brazilian cuisine has European and African influences. It varies greatly by region reflecting the country's mix of native and immigrant inhabitants. European immigrants primarily from Portugal, Italy, Spain and Germany brought wine, leaf vegetables and dairy. African slaves also helped develop Brazilian cuisine especially in the coastal states. Root vegetables, yams, and fruits like mango, orange and pineapple are local ingredients used in cooking. Popular dishes include beans and rice, a staple on every families table along with pasta. The national beverage is coffee and cachaca, Brazil's native liquor, distilled from sugar cane.
This is a famous Afro-Brazilliam dish from the city a Bahia. It's a kind of shrimp curry, with a sauce made from onions, coconut milk, peanuts and cashews then thickened with bread crumbs. Although the flavors are rich and complex, this dish is simple to prepare using frozen shrimp.
Bahian Shrimp in Coconut Cashew Sauce - Vatapá
2 cups torn white bread
1/2 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
3/4 cup roasted salted cashews
2 cups vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large onion
1 red chile pepper, chopped with seeds removed
1 glove garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked rice
Garnish with green onions
Soak the bread pieces in the coconut milk for 10 minutes. Please in a blender (with milk) and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Grind the peanuts and cashews in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside
Bring 2 cups of stock to boil. Add garlic and lime juice. Add the shrimp and boil until pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp and set aside (reserve cooking liquid).
In the same food processor, add the onion, chile pepper and garlic and process until finely chopped.
Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion mixture for about 5 minutes until soft and golden.
Add the ground nuts to the skillet and saute a few minutes more, adding a little oil if necessary.
Add the bread crumb and milk mixture and about 1 1/2 cups of the shrimp cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce has thickened (about 5 minutes), adding more liquid if necessary.
Add shrimp to sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Serve warm over rice; garnish with green onions
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