|Photo by Adalton Ramos|
Nonetheless, without a recipe for tacacá, this particular edition of Flavors of Brazil On the Road would be incomplete, so here it is, from the pages of Cozinha Regional Brasileira. Keep in mind, that most of the tacacá vendors in Belém have never seen a recipe for the soup, and if asked what quantities of this or that are required would have no idea. They'd say you need just enough manioc starch (goma) to give the broth a nice silky texture, enough chili peppers to liven the dish without burning out the mouth, and just enough jambu leaves to make your tongue and palate tingle but not deaden entirely. But here's the recipe, quantities and all.
RECIPE - Tacacá
For the tucupi
4 cups (1 liter) tucupi
3 cloves garlic, peeled
A few leaves, Amazonian chicory
1 bunch Amazonian basil
For the jambu
1 bunch jambu
salt to taste
For the shrimp
1 lb (500 gr) dried, salted large shrimp with shells
For the manioc starch
1 cup manioc starch (tapioca flour)
1 cup cold water
For the tacacá
8 cups (2 liters) water
salt to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch Amazonian chicory
chili peppers in vinegar (to taste)
Make the tucupi: In a saucepan combine the tucupi, the garlic the chicory and basil. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and reserve, keeping hot.
Prepare the jambu: Heat plenty of water in a saucepan and when it comes to the boil, add salt to taste. Blanch the jambu for a minute or two in the water and refresh immediately in a bowl of ice water. Reserve.
Prepare the shrimp: Thoroughly clean the shrimps. Soak them in cold water until needed to partially desalinize them. Reserve.
Prepare the manioc starch: In a medium mixing bowl, gradually stir the starch into cold water until it has all dissolved. Reserve.
Make the tacacá: In a third saucepan, mix the water, salt, garlic and chicory. Heat over medium heat and when it comes to the boil remove the garlic and chicory. Slowly add the dissolved manioc starch, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk to ensure that lumps don't form.
Serving: use hollowed-out dried gourds or deep soup bowls. In each bowl combine the tucupi and the manioc starch in proportions of 3/4 tucupi to 1/4 starch. Add a few jambu leaves and a few shrimp to each bowl, plus chili peppers if desired, and serve immediately, very hot.