Serving
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Vatapá with Fish & Shrimp
Brazil
  -   Vatapá
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
2-1/2 qts  
***
2 hr  
Yes
Vatapás are one of the signature dish in the Afro-Brazilian cuisine of the state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil. The most traditional version is made with just shrimp and salt cod, but it is also often made with fish, shrimp and salt cod, as in this recipe, and sometimes with chicken, shrimp and salt cod. Be aware: this is a robustly flavorful dish, not for wimps.




15
7
11
6
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1/4
1/4
1/4
2
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12
2
1
1
4
2
2
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5
14
1/3
3
1/2
1/3
oz
oz
oz
oz
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c
c
c

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oz
cl
in


T
T
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oz
oz
c
c
T
t
Fish fillet (1)
Salt Cod (2)
Shrimp
Onions
-- Thickeners
Peanuts, raw
Cashews, raw
Shrimp dried (3)
Chili dry (4)
-- Aromatics
Tomatoes
Garlic
Ginger root
Green Chili (5)
Scallion
Cilantro
Parsley
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Bread, day old (6)  
Coconut Milk
Dendê Oil (7)
Fish Stock (8)
Salt
Pepper, black
Prep   -   (24 hrs - 1-1/8 hr work)
  1. Soak SALT COD at least 24 hours in multiple changes of cold water in the refrigerator (or see Note-9).
  2. Drop Salt Cod into boiling water. When it comes back to a simmer, simmer for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness. Drain, let cool, and shred small.
  3. Cut FISH into pieces of the desired size, 1-1/2 inch on a side is usually good.
  4. Shell SHRIMP and de-vein as needed. If quite large, cut into 2 equal weight pieces.
  5. Chop ONION small.
  6. Dry pan roast raw PEANUTS and CASHEWS until speckled brown and tasting roasted (stop eating them!). Cool well.
  7. In a mini-prep food processor reduce Dried Shrimp and Dried Chilis to powder, then add Peanuts and Cashews. Process until you have a fine dry paste (the Shrimp and Chilis will keep the nuts from gumming up the works).
  8. Scald TOMATOES 1 minute in boiling water, quench in cold water, peel and dice small. Crush GARLIC and chop fine. Grate GINGER. Dice GREEN CHILI small. Slice SCALLIONS fairly thin crosswise. Chop CILANTRO and PARSLEY small. Mix all.
  9. Break up BREAD quite small and mix with Coconut Milk. Mash when well soaked.
Run   -   (45 min)
  1. Heat Dendê Oil in a 3-1/2 quart sauté pan or similar and fry Onions until translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in Aromatics mix and fry stirring until Tomatoes are well softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in Stock, Salt Cod, Bread mix, Thickeners, Salt and Pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring often, over low flame for about 20 minutes. Add more stock if needed. Don't worry about the bread being a bit lumpy, that's fine. Do use caution with the heat and stir from the bottom as the nuts tend to stick to the pan.
  4. Stir in Fish and simmer 5 minutes over the same low heat, then stir in Shrimp and simmer another 5 minutes.
  5. Check seasoning and Serve with plenty of steamed long grain rice.
NOTES:
  1. Fish Fillet:   This can be any light colored non-oily fish that holds together reasonably well in wet cooking. It is properly ocean fish, but fresh water fish can also be used. The photo example was with Tilapia, which is what happened to be in my freezer compartment, and it worked fine.
  2. Salt Cod:   This can be found most easily in Italian markets. While included in almost every recipe, it is sometimes omitted in home cooking due to expense and inconvenience. Don't omit it if at all possible, but if you really have to, increase the amount of fresh fish fillet to compensate.
  3. Dried Shrimp:   Measure is whole if very small, lightly crumbles if large. These can be found in any Asian, Mexican or South American market. Some recipes call for a little less than the amount given here, others for a whole lot more. This is a powerful flavoring, so use caution, but the amount I have included is what I consider the absolute minimum. Feel free to increase, but be sure you know what you are doing. For details see our Shrimp Sauce / Paste page.
  4. Chili, Dry:   Dried Thai chilis or de Arbols (not as hot but larger) for noticeable heat, Japones for milder. For details see our Chili Page.
  5. Green Chili:   One Serrano works fine here. Adjust hotness by adding more if you wish, but be sure you know what you are doing.
  6. Bread:   This should be white French, Italian or similar. Weight is after trimming crusts. If the crust is very thin, as on a small French baguette, it can be left on, but I've found my "Y" shaped vegetable peeler quickly and easily removes the crust from a day old baguette with almost no loss of weight.
  7. Dendê Oil:   This is a bright orange palm oil available from some African or Brazilian markets or on-line. Some recipes call for frying the Onions in Dendê Oil, some call for using a regular oil and stirring in 2 T Dendê Oil at finish. I see no reason not to take the first approach for this recipe. For details see our Dendê Oil page. The dish will not be ruined if you have to use the much more available coconut oil, especially if you color it with Annatto, which is easy to do.
  8. Fish Stock:   This need not be made from the fish used in the recipe. I've usually made the stock well ahead, often from Golden Pompano, and used the fillets for other purposes.
  9. Soaking Cod:   I have cut this down to less than 8 hours by slicing fairly thin (it's going to be crumbled small anyway) and soaking at room temperature with a fair number of changes of cold water. Yes, the guy from the FDA would have a seizure, but it's still a bit salty, the water is changed frequently and it's going to be at 212°F for a half hour. Bacteria are not going to survive this.
  10. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste

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