Brazilian cuisine: How to make Vatapá

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Afro-Brazilian prawn curry

Brazilian cuisine: How to make Vatapá
(Getty Thinkstock)

Preparing the sauce

Using a shallow pan, soak all of the torn pieces of bread in coconut milk for at least 20 minutes. Once well soaked, transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Make sure to add all of the coconut milk juices from the pan. Set aside for later.

Grab a medium sized saucepan and begin to boil the fish stock. Once it’s brought to a boil, add two cloves of minced garlic, juice of one lime, salt, pepper and prawns. Reduce heat and simmer for another 4 minutes, or until the prawns becomes light pink. Skim out the prawns and set aside. Keep the cooking liquid on low heat.

The curry

In a separate saucepan or skillet, heat palm oil on medium heat. While the temperature is rising in the skillet, throw the hot chilli pepper, onion and remaining garlic clove into the food process and pulse for about 30 seconds. Sauté the onion mixture in the palm oil until golden, soft, and very fragrant. Add the ground peanuts and cashews to the onion mixture and mix around for 3 more minutes.

At this point, add the coconut milk and bread crumb mixture, and half of the prawns cooking liquid to the skillet. Simmer, continuously stirring, on low heat until the sauce starts to become thick. If it thickens too much, add more prawns cooking liquid. Right before you are ready to serve, add the prawns to the sauce and season with salt, pepper and the juice of the second lime. Serve warm by itself, alongside white rice or acarajé.

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