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Bahian Shrimp in Coconut Cashew Sauce - Vatapá


Bahian Shrimp in Coconut Cashew Sauce - Vatapá

Bahian Shrimp in Coconut Cashew Sauce

Marian Blazes
This is a famous Afro-Brazilian dish from the city of Bahia. It's a kind of shrimp curry, with a sauce made from onions, coconut milk, peanuts, cashews, and thickened with bread crumbs. Traditional ingredients also include dried shrimp, which give it a much stronger flavor, and palm oil, which gives the dish it's beautiful yellow/orange color. Although the flavors are rich and complex, this dish is simple to prepare using frozen shrimp. A food processor also comes in handy.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 cups torn pieces of white bread
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 2 cups water or fish stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 pound of frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red chile pepper, roughly chopped with seeds removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons palm oil, or vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Soak the bread pieces with the coconut milk for 10 minutes. Place them in the blender (with the coconut milk) and blend until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Grind the peanuts and the cashews in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside.

  3. Bring 2 cups of fish stock or water to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and add the garlic and juice of one lime. Add the shrimp and boil until pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Reserve cooking liquid.

  4. In the same food processor, add the onion, chile pepper, and garlic, and process until finely chopped.

  5. Heat the palm oil (or vegetable oil) in a skillet, and sauté onion mixture for about 5 minutes, until soft and golden.

  6. Add the ground nuts to the skillet and sauté a few minutes more, adding a little oil if necessary, until golden.

  7. Add the bread crumb and coconut milk mixture and 1 1/2 cups of the shrimp cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until sauce has thickens, about 5 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary.

  8. Add shrimp to sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  9. Serve warm, over rice.
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