Brazilian Shrimp Stew

Brazilian Shrimp Stew
Dendê (palm) oil brings to the cooking of coastal Brazil what drums bring to samba: an insistent underlying sensuality. It transforms the coconut milk with its deep orange-red color and makes the flavor of the shrimp sing. But it is as perishable as it is seductive, so smell it before you use it.
  • 1¼ lb large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per lb), peeled and deveined
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (14- to 15-oz) can diced tomatoes including juice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 5 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon dendê (palm) oil*
  • Accompaniment: cooked white rice
  1. Step 1
  2. Toss shrimp with black pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, garlic, and lemon juice and marinate, covered and chilled, 20 minutes.
  3. Step 2
  4. Purée tomatoes with juice in a blender until smooth.
  5. Step 3
  6. Cook onion and bell pepper in olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add cayenne, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomato purée and simmer briskly, stirring, until mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil, then add shrimp mixture and cook, stirring, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Step 4
  8. Stir in dendê oil and remaining 4 tablespoons cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Step 5
  10. Available at Brazilian and West African markets and Kalustyan's (800-352-3451).