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Brazilian Black-Eyed Pea and Shrimp Fritters - Acarajé



Acarajé are a specialty of the state of Bahia in Brazil, and a popular street food and beach snack. Black-eyed peas, seasoned with ground dried shrimp and onions, are shaped into fritters and deep fried in palm (dende) oil, then split and filled with various fillings, such as vatapa, or in this case a spicy shrimp and onion mixture. Though dried shrimp are a traditional ingredient in acaraje, they tend to impart a very strong flavor. In this milder version, the cooked fritter is split and then filled with fresh shrimp and caramelized onions.

The traditional method for preparing these fritters is quite labor-intensive - it involves soaking dried black-eyed peas and then removing the skins. This recipe is a shortcut version using canned black-eyed peas, which speeds up the process greatly but is not completely authentic. Since you are already deviating from tradition with this recipe, try pairing acaraje with non-traditional fillings, such as ham salad, pimento cheese, olive tapenade, etc.


  • For the Filling:
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 cup small shrimp, fresh or frozen, shelled and de-veined
  • 2 tablespoons palm oil or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ____
  • For the Fritters:
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small chili pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Palm oil and/or vegetable oil for frying


  1. Make filling: Slice the onion very thinly. Place the sliced onions in a skillet with the olive oil or palm oil, sprinkle with salt and chile powder, and cook on low heat until they are soft and golden brown (about 15 minutes).

  2. Add the shrimp and sauté until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

  3. Make the fritters: Thoroughly drain the black-eyed peas and place them in the food processor. Roughly chop the onion and garlic, and add it to the peas.

  4. Remove the seeds and white parts from the inside of the chile pepper and add to the processor.

  5. Process mixture just until very well-blended, adding a tablespoon or two of water or broth if needed.

  6. Add flour by the tablespoon, until the mixture is stiff enough to hold a shape. Divide into 15 pieces, and shape into balls or ovals with the palms of your hand.

  7. Heat 2 inches palm oil and/or vegetable oil in a pot on medium high heat. Fry several fritters at a time until browned on all sides. Drain fritters on a plate lined with paper towels. Fritters can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven.

  8. Split fritters in half and fill with a spoonful of the onion and shrimp mixture. Serve warm.

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