Alice’s dish reminded me of this quote from the movie Forrest Gump:
Bubba: Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.
Funny thing is, he didn’t list either one of our shrimp dishes…
Growing up in Brazil, our special occasion dishes were not the same dishes that most of my American friends had. And we didn’t go to a grocery store to get our produce. We, and by we I mean our gardener Zé Branco, grew it. Meet Zé…
This shrimp dish was one of our special dishes, introduced to us by our Brazilian family. They served it in a large Cinderella pumpkin and it was as beautiful as it was delicious. It became a dish that I made for holidays, but I had to make it in individual acorn squash, because I couldn’t get the beautiful giant pumpkins in Minnesota at Christmas time. In fact, I just had it with my dear friends a month ago.
This is a dish that reminds me of family and love and celebration.
The method is quite simple, bake your squash, cut the top off and scoop out the seeds.
You can do those previous two things in any order. Usually, I cut the top off the squash, scoop out the seeds, put the lid back on and bake it until it is soft. This time, I reversed the order because the squash seemed very hard, I had already injured myself once that day… and wasn’t interested it doing it again. So I baked the squash for about an hour, then cut off the tops, scooped out the seeds and filled them with the shrimp sauce. Oops, getting ahead of myself.
While the squash was in the oven, I set to making the sauce.
I chopped up an onion, three cloves of garlic, half of a bunch of parsley, half of a bunch of green onions and four tomatoes.
I sautéed the onions in a large pot, over medium heat, with a tablespoon of oil. They just needed to soften a bit, about five to seven minutes, while being stirred once in a while. Then I added the garlic and let that soften a bit as well. By the way, the smell of sautéing onion and garlic together is quite possibly one of my favorite scents in the world. So inhale deeply at this point. You’re welcome!
Then I tossed in the chopped parsley and green onion, mixed them around a bit,
then added the tomatoes. The whole mixture cooked for a while, until everything started softening up and breaking down.
Then I added about four to five tablespoons of ketchup, two tablespoons of tomato paste, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a couple of dashes of a hot sauce, like Tabasco, and some salt and pepper to taste. Stirred that all together, and topped it off with four cups of chicken broth. I tasted it for seasoning and then let it simmer for about 45 minutes.
When the squash was soft, I cut the tops off, scooped out the seeds,
then smeared the insides with onion and chive flavored cream cheese.
You can certainly use plain cream cheese, or you can use Requeijão Cremoso if you have access to it. It’s a creamy cheese that is readily available in Brazil and sometimes available in Latin markets in the US.
The shrimp can be added to the sauce for a minute or two before you scoop it all into the squash.
Don’t let it cook for too long, or the shrimp will become quite rubbery. Raw shrimp works best for this dish, but I have also tossed in some of the teeny tiny precooked shrimp in a pinch.
I filled the squash with the sauce, put the lids back on
and put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes, while I made the rice.
We always served this over rice, but it really can be served as a one dish, errr gourd, meal.
Brazilians are very fond of their rice and will usually not have a meal without including it. And once you taste some well made Brazilian rice… you will realize why. It’s garlic-y, soft and absolutely delicious on its own or as a complement to a nice sauce.
I will post the recipe and method for Brazilian rice another time. You’ll just have to check back!
Camarão na Moranga (Squash with Shrimp)
1-2 tablespoons of oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped (use the greens and whites)
4 large tomatoes, chopped
3-4 tablespoons of ketchup
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2-3 dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco)
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups of chicken broth (I used 1 carton of store bought chicken broth)
1 lb of shrimp, peeled or with shells according to your preference
1 tub (12 oz/ 350g) of onion and chive flavored cream cheese (can also use plain)
1 large Cinderella pumpkin or individual acorn squashes
Place squash in a 350F oven, let bake for at least one hour or until it is soft when pressed. Alternately, if you feel brave, cut top off squash, scoop out the seeds, replace the lid and place in oven to bake for one hour or until soft when pressed.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium/high heat, add chopped onions and sauté five to seven minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add chopped garlic, cook two to three minutes longer. Add chopped parsley and green onions, mix around, then add chopped tomatoes. Stir intermittently, keep cooking until the tomatoes start to break down.
Add ketchup, Worcestershire and tomato sauces, then some salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the chicken broth and lower the heat to medium. The sauce should be at a high simmer, lightly bubbling. Let sauce cook for 45 minutes or longer, if needed.
When squash is soft, pull it out of the oven, cut off top and scoop out seeds if you haven’t done so yet. Be careful, it will be very hot! Spread cream cheese around the inside of the cooked squash, including the lid.
Add shrimp to the sauce and let it cook for just a few minutes. Stir in any remaining cream cheese.*
Fill squash with sauce. You will most likely have some extra sauce remaining.
Place squash back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
Remove squash from oven, if using large squash, place on a serving platter in the middle of the table and serve by scooping sauce along with some of the squash and cream cheese over rice.
If using individual squashes, place one on each plate, serve with rice and allow each person to scoop their own.
*If you prefer a creamy sauce, feel free to add some cream cheese, sour cream or a cup of creme de leite to the sauce before you scoop it into the squash.