Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk – Brazilian Ensopado or Moqueca

Today is all about classic Brazilian food. One would think that it is my favorite kind of food. But I am not sure I have a favorite. Growing up in a household with a Spaniard father and a Syrian Mother, I was fortune enough to get exposed to many different types of food. But Brazilian food is definitely comfort food to me.

There is nothing like this Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk (Ensopado or Moqueca de Camarão) to help me feel better whenever I am homesick. In Brazil you can find this dish made with all kinds of seafood: fish, soft shell crab (one of my favorites), octopus, etc.

Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk Ingredients displayed on a wood carving board
Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk Ingredients

My mother also used to make this dish with just eggs. She would cook the broth and when it was boiling, she would just crack the eggs. She would serve the over easy eggs on top of white rice. The combination of the coconut broth, the running egg yolk and the rice is rich and velvety. My mouth waters just thinking about it!

Like many other dishes, Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk varies from region to region in Brazil. This recipe is typical from the Northeast region of the country, from Salvador (Bahia), the city where I was born and lived for 25 years before I moved to the US.

In Brazil, and at my house, Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk is usually cooked in a clay pot. But I have cooked in regular pots before and it works just fine.

Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk Plated with rice and farina flour on a bamboo placemat accompanied with an ice cold beer
Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk Plated

Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk, or Ensopado and Moqueca in Brazil, have the same base recipe. The only difference is that for the Moqueca you add Palm Oil (known in Brazil as dendê oil). This is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. I usually buy the Nutiva Organic Red Palm Oil, 15 oz from Amazon but it can also be found is specialty or gourmet groceries stores.

Either variation of the Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk recipe, Ensopado or Moqueca, is delicious and definitely bring me memories of good times with good friends and good food.

Shrimp Stew in Coconut Milk Ingredients

  • 2 lb. of raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on extra large shrimp (26-30 per pound)
  • 2 Tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato thinly sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 can (13.66 oz) of coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp of Palm Oil (if making Moqueca)
  • 1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a clay pot, or a heavy pot, warm the coconut oil for 3 minutes in medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add cumin, tomato and bell pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add coconut milk and tomato paste. Also, add the palm oil if you are making Moqueca. Add parsley and cilantro. Try the broth and add salt and pepper. Cook until mixture is bubbly.
  3. Add the shrimp (or any other seafood) to the broth and cook for about 5 minutes. Be very careful not to overcook the shrimp as it can become very chewy and rubbery. Serve with white rice and your favorite hot sauce.
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