Vatapá Recipe

VatapaThe first time that I tried vatapá was at a small, hill side cafe in the city of Salvador located in Brazil’s Bahia State. In addition to an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean, Café du Mar featured a wide array of classic Bahian dishes. Many of these, including vatapá, had African influences such as coconut, chilies, manioc flour, bananas, and palm oil.

Vatapa has a sauce rich with the flavors of land and sea. The flavor of the fish and shrimp are a perfect complement to the earthy flavors of ginger and peanut. It is a great stand-alone meal served over rice and it also works as a hearty side dish.

1 pound of Tilapia or Cod fillets
1/4 cup shrimp powder

4 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher Salt
Ground black pepper
¼ cup of chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp of fresh ginger, chopped
2 cups of chopped Roma tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce (15 ounces)
6 dried red chilis
1 cup of coconut milk
½ cup of chopped cashew nuts
1 cup of smooth peanut butter
3 cloves of diced garlic
1 tablespoon of palm oil
¼ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup of water

  1. Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper on the fillets. Saute the fish and shrimp in a large pot for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Try to flip the fish only once in order to keep the pieces from falling apart. Remove the fillets and shrimp from the pot and keep in the oven on warm.
  2. Next, add green onions, ginger and the diced yellow onion to the pot and sauté for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the can of tomato sauce. Simmer for 4 more minutes.
  4. Add the chilies, coconut milk, cashews, peanut butter, garlic, palm oil and water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Cut the fish into 3 inch pieces. Add the fish and the shrimp back to the sauce. Avoid stirring the sauce too much in order to keep the pieces of fish intact.
  6. Add the cilantro and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  7. Serve over warm rice.
Suggested wine pairing: Oberon Sauvignon Blanc

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Brasil [ print this recipe for Vatapá ]

1 comment:

  1. For a few days I was cursing you, as I searched all over for shrimp powder. But I finally found it and I'm glad I did. I had this dish tonight and it was fabulous. I thought it needed a little more heat, so I added some cayenne.

    I paired it with an Oberon sauvignon blanc, which was a great choice for this dish. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Cheers!


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