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Vatapá - brazilian shrimp custard

kept byOcean

(Brazilian seafood stew with coconut milk)
4 to 6 servings


Onion, chopped - 2
Dried shrimp (see notes) - 1/2 cup
Garlic, chopped - 2 to 3 cloves
Malagueta or jalapeño chile peppers, chopped - 1-4
Oil - 3 tablespoons
Stock or water - 1 1/2 cups
Natural peanut or cashew butter - 1/2 cup
Breadcrumbs - 1 cup
Salt and pepper - to taste
Shrimp, peeled and deveined - 1 pound
Coconut milk - 2 cups
Dendê oil (optional) - 1/4 cup

Place the onion, dried shrimp, garlic and chilies in a food processor or blender and puree well.
Add a little water if necessary. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion-shrimp mixture and sauté until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in the stock or water and whisk in the peanut or cashew butter until smooth.
Then stir in the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-8 minutes to meld the flavors.
Stir in the shrimp and coconut milk and simmer another 5-6 minutes, or until shrimp is almost cooked through.
Remove from heat, stir in the dendê oil and serve.

Vatapá de Galinha: substitute 1 1/2 pounds of cooked, shredded chicken for the shrimp.
Vatapá de Peixe: substitute 1 1/2 pounds of firm white-fleshed fish, cut into chunks, for the shrimp.
If you can't find dried shrimp, you can puree about 1 cup of fresh raw shrimp in a blender and substitute it for the dried.
A truly authentic dish would use dendê, or palm oil, which gives the dish a bright yellow-orange tint.
But dendê can be hard to find outside Brazil.
Try adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of turmeric to the onion-shrimp paste instead.
Some recipes call for the addition of 1 tablespoon of fresh, minced ginger.
Others for 1-2 cups of chopped tomatoes. The breadcrumbs act as a thickener for the vatapá.
Some recipes use cornmeal instead. Others thicken it like a gravy with flour.



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This adaptable stew is from the Brazilian state of Bahia, where Iberian, indigenous, and African foodways intermingle in one of the country's most dynamic cuisines.


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