Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Brazilian Shrimp Stew

Hands down, it is my favorite shrimp recipe! Fantastic flavor, rich taste and vibrant color won't let you forget this recipe. Super-easy to make. Ready? Start.. Go!

Blog's Category: International, Seafood


I knew I'm partial to a tropical cuisine, to all those fruity savory dishes. How come, so far, I didn't make this recipe, which has all what I adore - shrimp, coconut, cilantro, lemon, garlic? Anyway. I've made it and I love it - Brazilian Coconut Shrimp stew. 

What is it?

It is shrimp, quickly marinated in garlic and lemon juice, and cooked briefly in a very flavorful sauce. Sauce made of bell pepper, onion, crushed tomatoes and canned coconut milk. All seasoned with fresh cilantro and optional cayenne pepper for those like me ;) Some like it hotter, right?

Taste Description

Oh, it tastes like haven. I refuse to describe - taste buds better than a thousand words ;)

How to Serve

It is great right from a stove, as well as reheated next day. I really liked it with a simple toasted piece of baguette. Traditionally it is served with a plain rice. I think, it would be great with mashed potato or buttered pasta as a side, as well.

Side Notes

If you don't like coconut milk, you can easily omit it, adding to a sauce a cup or two of plain water instead. Also, add some sugar, about 1 tablespoon, to neutralize tomato acidity. You will end up with a great shrimp in a pungent and refreshing tomato gravy. I cooked this way for my daughter, who has some sort of coconut intolerance. She liked her shrimp a lot!

Brazilian Coconut Shrimp Stew

For about 6 servings:
  • 40-50 raw shrimp, de-veined and peeled 
  • 1/2+ tsp  salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), sliced
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 or whole can of coconut milk (depending how much you like coconut)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tbs palm kernel oil (absolutely optional)

- First, mix shrimp with lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate for about 20 minutes while you do chop-chop for your vegetables.

- In a large pan, heat olive oil and cook onion and bell pepper on a medium high, just until they soften. 

- Add crushed tomatoes and half of cilantro and cook, stirring, until it is thick and paste-like, about 10-15 minutes.

- Add coconut milk, bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are not translucent anymore, for about 7 minutes. Take off heat.

- Add some salt, cayenne pepper, palm oil (if using) and remaining cilantro. And enjoy!



You can use any type of bell pepper. Yellow is my favorite.

Cook crushed tomatoes, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until they become thick. 

I forgot to add coconut milk first.. so added shrimp and coconut milk all at the same time. No big deal.  Although it is better to add coconut milk first and bring it to a boil. Then to add shrimp. It will ensure shrimp won't overcook.

Traditional Brazilian recipe calls for red palm oil added at the end. It happened I have it, bought recently at Mustard Seed whole food market. Although I dropped just a pinch of it to my stew to see (and taste) how it is and decided not to bother with it just because my stew already had enough olive oil in it. Besides, this kind of palm oil does not appear to be healthy after all..

Palm kernel oil. 80% saturated fat. Well, well, well... I decided not to use it.

I dropped a tiny amount just to see.. It has the beautiful hot yellow color color, like a turmeric, just better :) 

Drooling over it :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Tostones - popular Latin American food. It is thick chips, or smashed patties, of plantain, plant which looks like banana, but not banana at all. Just be cautious - these sweet-ish chips, in combination with garlic-lime sauce, are addictive.

Blog's Category: Awesome Findings, Hors D'oeuvre, International, Snacks, Vegetarian


First time, I enjoyed fried plantains many year ago on our vacation in Miami. Since then, I am a fan of this starchy banana-like vegetable. Plantain, unlike banana, has not to be consumed raw and used mostly in savory dishes. It's often fried, then sometimes mashed, or smashed like in this recipe. It is a great side to any type of meat or vegetable, especially with sauce or gravy.

Tostones is a Puerto Rican dish. Below is a traditional way to cook tostones. I'm not completely happy with a fact that it is twice-fried dish but final result is great. As a bonus to plantain's starchiness - high nutritional value. It's high in potassium, vitamin A and C, fiber. So I'm not feeling guilty at all :)

What is it?

Thick slices of plantain is fried, then smashed into patties and fried again. Simple? Yes. But the key is win-win combination of these tostones with my Lime-Garlic dipping sauce.

Taste Description

Tender sweetness of crunchy tostones, lightly sprinkled with salt, bursts and shines after you dip them into super-flavorful dipping sauce - resulting sweet-and-sour bouquet of garlic, lime, cilantro, plantain flavors knock you out while your hand is already reaching for a next chip.

How to Serve

As any fried food, tostones are the best when served right away. Sorry, couldn't save any to test them cooled down :) I assume they are still delicious after re-heating, preferably in a toaster-oven to regain its crunchiness.

Tostones - Smashed Plantain Chips

For 16-18 tostones:
  • 2 plantains
  • salt
  • oil for frying (I use light olive oil or grape oil)
Dipping sauce:
  • 1 tbs ketchup
  • 1 tbs sriracha (omit if you don't like spicy food)
  • 1 lime (juice only)
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbs water
  • few sprigs of cilantro, chopped

- First, make dipping sauce combining all ingredients together. Set aside for serving.

- Prepare plantain by cutting off ends, peeling it and slicing into 1"-thick circles (see pictures below).

- Fry plantain slices on a medium-high heat in about 4 tablespoons of oil until golden brown, on both sides. Remove on a plate. They will be slightly undercooked, but that's OK.

- Place plantain piece in between two layers of plastic wrap and, using flat-bottomed pan (see pictures), press down with both hands to smash it into about 4 mm thick patties. 

- When done with smashing, fry patties on a same frying pan until crunchy and golden-brown. Add oil if needed. Remove cooked chips onto plate with paper towel to absorb extra oil. Sprinkle a little bit with a salt.

- Serve with dipping sauce on a side and.. Enjoy!



Your dipping sauce will be a bit sour, but that's all right - in combination with neutral-sweet chips it will be just perfect.

Ir's easy to differentiate plantain from banana in a store - plantains are bigger, heavier,  usually in a dark spots and bruises. sometimes almost black when ripe.

Don't bang, just press down evenly :)

Some patties are not perfectly round, and it doesn't make them taste a bit worse :)

.. just a bit of salt..