Thursday, August 25, 2011

RECIPE - Shrimp with Chayote (Camarão com Chuchu)

Here in Brazil's north-east shrimp is so good and served so many different ways that it's difficult not to eat it every night of the week. It's also relatively inexpensive, especially by North American or European standards, so it's not out of the question here to buy the more-expensive sea-caught shrimps instead of the cultivated ones, even if most of those are sustainably farmed. The difference in taste is worth every centavo of the difference in price.

This easy recipe from the north-eastern state of Rio Grande do Norte was last night's dinner for us here at Flavors of Brazil and comes from a series of books on regional Brazilian cuisine called Cozinha Regional Brazileira, published by Abril Editora. It combined medium-sized shrimp with the mild-tasting but delectable vegetable known in Spanish as chayote, in English as christophene or vegetable pear, and in Cajun French as mirliton. Here is Brazil it bears the charming name chuchu (pronounced shoo-shoo). Until recently difficult to source in most of North America, chayote has recently moved beyond Latin American ethnic food shops and markets and can now be found in supermarkets everywhere. If you've never tried chayote, this recipe is a perfect introduction, as it's quick, no-fuss and absolutely delicious.
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RECIPE - Shrimp with Chayote (Camarão com Chuchu)
4 portions

1 lb (400 gr) medium shrimp, headless, deveined and peeled
juice of 1 lime
salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 lb chayote, peeled, depitted and cut into small cubes
1 small chili pepper (malagueta, jalapeno, serrano), halved and deseeded
1 tsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
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In a medium mixing bowl, season the shrimp with the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste and the chopped cilantro. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the chopped onion and garlic and saute until the onion just begins to brown. Add the reserved shrimp and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the shrimp begin to take on a pink color. Add the chopped tomatoes, the chayote cubes and the halved chili pepper. Correct the seasoning for salt, cook for a few minutes over medium heat or until the tomato begins to break up. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 25 minutes or until the chayote is soft and tender. Add additional water by 1/4 cup amounts if needed to prevent drying out.

Remove from heat, discard the chili pepper halves, add the chopped parsley and toss briefly. Place in a decorative serving bowl and serve immediately accompanied by white rice.

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