Recipe for Vatapá

The Vatapá is a typical brazilian dish from the cuisine of Bahia, which is from a populous state baring the same name in the Center, East Brazil area.

Vatapa was influenced by the African cuisine, brought to Brazil by the slaves in the sixteenth century. With the ingredients found in this new land and the need to complete their daily regimen, they have developed many dishes that have become traditional of Brazilian cuisine.

To serve a good brazilian acarajé, one can not miss adding some vatapa as an accompaniment. The acarajé is another typical dish from the Bahia state that is served with vatapa. The traditional recipe for vatapa includes dried shrimp, bread, coconut milk, peanuts and cashews. Other Brazilian states have their own way of presenting acarajé, but to properly serve a Bahia-style acarajé serve it with vatapa. We will discuss the acarajé later on another page of this site. One idea for a brazilian appetizer at parties or as a snack before lunch or even dinner, would be to make smaller acarajés instead of the typical larger ones, and serve with vatapá.

Making Vatapa

* 1 lb. dried shrimp (500g)
* 8 cups (2 liters) of coconut milk (preferably natural)
* 1 cup (150g) roasted peanuts, shelled
* 1 cup (150g) unsalted cashew nuts
* Small bunch of parsley
* Small bunch of cilantro
* 4 tomatoes, chopped
* 2 large onions, chopped
* 2 cups of canola oil
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 3 cups flour, (the flour can be replaced by bread, typically 10 small french baguettes in this case)
* salt
* 1/2 inch fresh ginger root, minced


1) Clean the shrimp, removing the tail and head, separating the half. In your blender, blend the peanuts, nuts and half the shrimp until it becomes a homogeneous crumbly paste.

2) Dissolve the flour in 2 cups of chilled coconut milk. Pour the remaining coconut milk in a saucepan to heat it up on the stove.

3) Blend the spices using the blender again, pour in the saucepan on the stove then add the dissolved flour, the spices and the blended crumbly shrimp, peanuts and cashews paste.

4) Do not stop stirring to avoid making lumps. Pour the canola oil in, the olive oil, the other half of the shrimps, salt and ginger. Continue to stir until the mixture starts to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until desired thickness is reached. The vatapà should have a thick, but still creamy texture. If it becomes too thick, add more coconut milk if it gets too liquid, add more flour or bread to the mixture.

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