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“Vatapá is one of the classic dishes of Brazilian cuisine. It hails from Bahia state on the northeast coast where many of the dishes have African origins. A thick version is often served as a filling for acarajé patties.”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • onion, chopped
  • 12 cup dried shrimp (see notes)
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 14 jalapeano chili pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 12 cup stock or 12 cup water
  • 12 cup natural-style peanut butter
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 14 cup dend oil (optional)


  1. 1.Place the onion, dried shrimp, garlic and chilies in a food processor or blender and puree well. Add a little water if necessary.
  2. 2.Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion-shrimp mixture and sauté until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. 3.Stir in the stock or water and whisk in the peanut or cashew butter until smooth. Then stir in the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-8 minutes to meld the flavors.
  4. 4.Stir in the shrimp and coconut milk and simmer another 5-6 minutes, or until shrimp is almost cooked through.
  5. 5.Remove from heat, stir in the dendê oil and serve.
  6. •Vatapá de Galinha: substitute 1 1/2 pounds of cooked, shredded chicken for the shrimp.
  7. •Vatapá de Peixe: substitute 1 1/2 pounds of firm white-fleshed fish, cut into chunks, for the shrimp.
  8. •If you can't find dried shrimp, you can puree about 1 cup of fresh raw shrimp in a blender and substitute it for the dried.
  9. •A truly authentic dish would use dendê, or palm oil, which gives the dish a bright yellow-orange tint. But dendê can be hard to find outside Brazil. Try adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of turmeric to the onion-shrimp paste instead.
  10. •Some recipes call for the addition of 1 tablespoon of fresh, minced ginger. Others for 1-2 cups of chopped tomatoes.
  11. •The breadcrumbs act as a thickener for the vatapá. Some recipes use cornmeal instead. Others thicken it like a gravy with flour.

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