Friday, October 26, 2012

[Chef's Recipe] Shrimp Moqueca from Bam Bam

Check out this recipe from the LA soon-to-be hot spot BAM BAM. You're getting the first look at some of the amazing (and healthy) dishes that they'll be serving up thanks to Executive Chef, Brendan Muha. 

Shrimp Moqueca
Serves 4

1 lbs raw shrimp*

2 lime, juiced
2T red palm oil**
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rounds 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
4 large ripe tomatoes (or 14oz can whole peeled tomatoes), cut into rounds or sliced
1c coconut milk (not low-fat)
1 bunch cilantro, torn roughly
1 scallion, finely sliced
2 sprigs parsley, torn roughly 
1t salt, plus more to taste
pepper, to taste
minced malagueta peppers, to taste***

Clean the shrimp and combine with half of the lime juice and salt in a small bowl. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour, not more. Remove shrimp and discard marinade. 

Heat the palm oil in a frying pan, casserole, or clay pot. Sauté the onions until golden, then add the garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds), add the peppers and a few sprigs of cilantro and continue to sauté for a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and allow to cook down for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and marinated shrimp, and reduce heat to low. If necessary, add a small bit of water (or shrimp stock). Cook until the shrimp is opaque throughout and the sauce is smooth. 

Add cilantro, scallions, and parsley -- taste, and adjust seasoning. Add the remaining lime juice and minced malagueta peppers, if desired. Just before serving, top with more fresh cilantro. 

Traditionally, this is served over white rice -- I like to serve it over steamed cubed sweet potatoes or simply enjoy it as a stew. 

Notes from the Chef:

*I recommend buying shrimp with heads and shells. Seaside kiosks in Brazil will cook with the entire shrimp; they use very large shrimp, and the head and shell help flavor the dish. Finer restaurants will remove the head and shell and use them to prepare a stock. You're also free to use peeled, headless shrimp. 

**Red palm oil is known as azeite de dendê and is a key ingredient in cooking of the Brazilian northeast; it can be found in Brazilian markets, SE Asian markets, and some natural food markets (Erewhon, etc.). If you can't find dendê, or prefer a lighter taste, you can create your own óleo de urucum: lightly sauté about 1T of achiote/annatto seeds (available at any Latin supermarket) in 2T of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Be sure not to scorch. When the oil is fragrant and richly colored, remove the seeds and the oil is ready. Or, if you want to make life easy, you can simply add a bit of paprika to your olive oil while it warms. 

***Malagueta peppers, or pimenta malagueta, are small spicy red peppers sold in jars. They have a sharp and vinegary spice. You can find them in Brazilian markets, or you may substitute fresno peppers, serranos, or another pepper of your choosing.  

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