There are several things I know about Brazil–be prepared to be wowed and amazed.
- First, Brazil is in South America.
- Second, for some reason their language is Portuguese, and at some point in history Portugal opened a can of whoop-ass on them to make them NOT speak spanish.
- Third, a bunch of Victoria Secret models are from there. Hot ones, not the un-hot super models. They are very tan, too.
- Fourth, Brazilian Shrimp Stew is the bomb and perhaps I too can look like a super model (well, a washed-up, not tall enough, old one with an average body) if I eat enough of it. I am sure it has nothing to do with genetics.
My love affair with shrimp stew began several years ago at a super boring in-service at work. My friend was clearing out a pack of her husband’s cooking magazines, and I was flipping through them to stay conscious. It is, after all, unprofessional to fall out of your seat asleep with drool dripping from your mouth while at in-services….awkward….
The December 2002 issue of Gourmet magazine caught my eye: “Brazilian Shrimp Stew”. The actual name is Moqueca De Camarao with a funny accent over the last “a”.
Since the word “Brazil” was nowhere in the title and I wasn’t sure what a “camarao” was, I did a quick double take of the ingredient list to make sure camarao didn’t translate to kabobbed squirrel or fileted muskrat. *Shewwww….safe.*
Here is the squirrel and muscrat free recipe list:
Let’s go ahead a make a batch….
Start with a pound or so of deveined, peeled shrimp. I always add closer to 2 pounds because I am a glutton for meat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, two cloves of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. The cooking shows will say fresh squeezed lemons are the way to go….I say, who cares. I have used fresh squeezed and bottled and honestly, the family still eats the dish like a pack of wild dogs–so, whatever.
You want to use a decent sized shrimp or they shrink up to the size of Sea Monkeys. Guests don’t want to eat Sea Monkeys.
Next, let’s tackle the onion and green pepper. Be sure to dice them up dramatically so your family thinks you are crying real tears. Then, your significant other will grab the knife from you and finish because they hate to see you cry and *viola* you have a new sous chef. Don’t question my methods….just cry like a blubbering baby.
Cook the onion and peppers in olive oil in a skillet until they are softened. To this mixture add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. If you are not into spicy, you can add less. The 1/2 teaspoon adds a bit of kick the mixture, and if you are unsure, air on the side of conservative. You can always increase the amount of cayenne later.
Also, try not to take a big wiff of the cooking fumes during this stage. Believe me, I have pepper-burned my nasal passages before….which, in retrospect, is probably karma punishing me for the fake-onion tears. Karma’s a bitch; so is a cayenne sinus rub.
Cut up a fresh bunch of cilantro. You will need 5 tablespoons total for the recipe but only one tablespoon right now. Toss one tablespoon into the green pepper, white pepper, cayenne skillet and mix them together with your spoon. Seriously, still don’t take a wiff. Resist the urge, like the hot, Zeroxed papers from elementary school.
Prepare the pureed tomatoes. I love this part because it creates a lovely thick tomato mixture. I use my treasured little blender since it fits the 15-ounces of tomatoes quite well and minimizes the clean-up efforts, after the fact. Sigh—it is my last little blender cup from the cheap smoothie-making set from a few years ago. I consider it a mini-blender memorial cup.
Add the tomato puree to the skillet, simmering until the sauce is very thick (about 15 minutes over medium heat).
Stir in a can of unsweetened coconut milk. I have used the lite and regular versions of coconut milk with good results. Obviously, the non-lite version is richer in taste. I suppose it depends how fat you want to grow your butt. If you want a big Kardasian butt, go regular strength. I think the Brazilian super models likely go lite, since they have to wear tiny, knit bikinis.
I love how the skillet takes on a pinkish color from the lightness of the milk. From boring red to…..uh, wild, flaming flamingo? I will have to work on a better color descriptor.
Adding the shrimp to the skillet.
Finish the dish by adding the marinated shrimp mixture and remaining 4 tablespoons of cilantro. Simmer until the shrimp are just cooked. Rubbery, over-cooked shrimp are a big “ewww” and your friends will think you are a suck-y chef.
I wanted to add a ditty in regards to the dende oil. It is impossible to find. My husband found palm oil in a jar at a random ethnic place which has since gone out of business (hopefully, NOT because its dende caused brain damage—though, that would explain a lot). A little internet research suggested that a dash of peanut oil has the same effect as a tablespoon of the elusive dende. I will let you run your own experiments on that matter.
The grand finale. Add a scoop of rice to the bowl and cover it with the finished Shrimp Stew. I am so posh.
We use a scooper to make the rice pretty and portioned.
Top it off with a healthy helping of stew.
YUUUUUUMMMM! I am still not skinny like a super model, though. I must have used the Kardashian-grade coconut milk.