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Edible Samba

Passport & Plate - Moqueca de camarao (Brazilian coconut shrimp stew)

Brazil | Tuesday, 4 March 2014 | 4 photos

1 Kilo med size fresh shrimp, shells on
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 large, sweet red pepper, chopped
2 large, sweet green peppers, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh, red Cayenne chillies, seeds removed, minced
5 ripe Roma or vine tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
2 1/2 cans coconut milk
1/2 cup red Palm OIL (Azeite de Dendê)
Juice of 3 limes
Sea salt
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped


How to prepare this recipe
Shell, devein, and rinse shrimp; dry on paper towels. Heat Palm Oil over med heat in large soup pot and sauté onions, garlic, peppers and chillies for app 15 min, until onions are translucent but not browned. Add tomatoes and cook another 10 min, stirring. Add coconut milk, salt, and lime juice and cook for 5 min. Add shrimp and coriander and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp are just pink. Consistancy of stew should be similar to a creamy soup. Adjust salt. Serve over white Basmati rice, accompanied by a bit of red chilli vinegar. Serves 4.
** In Brazil, this dish is also served with sautéed manioc flour, seasoned with garlic and parsley, cooked until crunchy.


The story behind this recipe
My Brazilian recipe of Moqueca de Camarao (coconut shrimp stew) has been my signature dish for the past 30 years. I first tried this dish when I arrived in Bahia, Brazil, to work at the Club Mediterranee resort. It was love at first bite! The flavours of Moqueca evoke the soul and passion of Brazil; this dish IS Brazil! The Dendê, or red palm oil in this dish is a staple in all of the North Eastern Brazilian cuisine. The seeds of the Dendê palm were first brought to Brazil by the African slaves in the late 16th century, and it is until today, a nostalgic flavor of the motherland, Africa.
What I most respect about Moqueca is it´s historical contribution to Brazilian cuisine, and it´s unparalleled longevity and popularity to this day.
In September, 2012, I was invited to cook for an Olympic culinary event during the London Olympics. Every night of the Olympics, a native of a different country cooked a special traditional meal, and I was the chef for the final Brazilian evening. I prepared my Moqueca for 72 guests at the Shoreditch town hall in London. I put together a full Brazilian menu with the Moqueca being the star, and Brazilian night was a huge success. I was so excited to introduce this iconic Brazilian dish to the culinary scene of London.
During my 23 years in Brazil, I lived for 2 years in the Amazon, managing jungle lodges. I took this opportunity to work closely with the lodge chefs to insure maximum utilization of the local fish and fruits, always respecting the traditional, local cooking methods.
I believe that a country´s traditional dishes should not be tampered with, or "updated", as this is a form of diluting the culinary heritage of the cuisine.
My Brazilian Moqueca is edible samba, a carnival of simple yet exotic flavours that capture the true essence of Brazil and it´s rich multicultural heritage.

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