Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RECIPE - Vinegared Shrimp Cocktail (Camarão ao Vinagrete)

If you look at the Portuguese translation for this dish shown in the title above you'll see the word vinagrete. Yet we here at Flavors of Brazil have chosen to render the name of this dish into English as Vinegared Shrimp Cocktail. Since most English-speaking readers of this blog already know the word vinaigrette, with its French spelling, why didn't we simply call this Shrimp Vinaigrette?

The reason is that the English word vinaigrette and the it's Portuguese look-alike vinaigrete are what linguists like to call "false friends". That is, two words in different languages that look like they mean the same thing, but in fact don't. Their similarity can cause someone to use one to translate the other, but the translation isn't a good one. This can cause confusion, misunderstanding, or even dangerous consequences.

English-language vinaigrette comes from the French, as does its recipe. It's basically an emulsion of vinegar and oil, bound together by beating or whipping, and most commonly served as a salad dressing. Brazilian vinegrete (pronounced vih-neh-GRE-che) on the other hand is a condiment served at the table to accompany traditional rice, beans and meat Brazilian meals. It is made of chopped tomato, onion and sometimes green pepper in diluted vinegar. More of a relish than a salad dressing, and it has no oil.

This recipe from the north-eastern Brazilian state of Paraíba works beautifully as a first course for a dinner or a main course for a light lunch and consists of cold boiled shrimp tossed at the last minute with vinaigrete. Refreshing and light, it's a perfect food for a hot day at the beach, or for that matter in the city or at the lake.
RECIPE - Vinegared Shrimp Cocktail (Camarão ao Vinagrete)
Serves 2

For the shrimp:
1 1/2 lb (600 gr) large peeled shrimp, raw
juice of one large lime
salt to taste
lime slices to garnish

For the vinaigrete:
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (do not peel)
1 small green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp finely chopped green onions, green part only
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
Make the shrimp:
In a mixing bowl sprinkle the lime juice over the shrimp, then season with salt to taste. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring 6 cups (1.5 liters) water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the shrimps to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the shrimp are pink, opaque and tender. Drain immediately in a sieve or colander and refresh with plenty of cold water. Drain thoroughly, place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Make the vinaigrete:
Combine all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least thirty-minutes for the flavors to blend.

Divide the shrimp between two deep plates. Pour half of the solid vinaigrete ingredients over each, then stir with a wooden spoon to spread evenly. Add about 2 Tbsp of the liquid from the vinaigrete to each plate, and top with lime slice or lime wedge to garnish. Serve immediately, while still cold.


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