Week 6. Brazil. Vatapá & Acarajé

Right. I am going to add a bit of the review before the usual preamble. Vatapa is highly interesting and tastes great. Acaraje is a mega hassle, didn’t work, drove me totally nuts and looks rubbish photographed. Back to the preamble….

The choosing of the country was pretty amusing this week, as it was chosen by a very good friend of mine (Dom) without realising what he was doing. We were discussing how we hadn’t had him round to dinner in a while so he suggested this Thursday. I said that was perfect and therefore he could chose the country. At this point I realised that very few of my friends actually know I do this blog, and he stood there with a blank expression and simply replied “you what mate?”.

I decided I would make him choose before actually telling him what I did, which went a bit like this:

ME:          “Just give me a number Dom – I’ll explain in a minute”

DOM:       “What?”

ME:           “Mate, don’t worry about it, just give me a number”

DOM:       “Joe this is weirding me out a bit – what are you on about”

ME:          “Dom….number” (a bit sterner this time)

DOM:       “alright mate, chill out, 47”

ME:          “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. You are eating food from Brazil this week mate due to the number you selected”

DOM      “you what?”

And that was the conversation. I explained things later and he seemed pretty excited about things -which then made me realise I needed to get researching quick to get something which was a crowd pleaser.

I plumped for Vatapa and Acaraje as they were very traditional and were quite different to the past few weeks. Vatapa is a prawn type curry, made interesting by mountains of salted peanuts and soaked bread. Acaraje is a black eye pea and prawn fritter.

I need to be very clear here, black eye peas are a pain,  a mega pain! At 6 pm I sat down to skin the buggers and by 7pm I had done a third. Each little one (I think there were possibly 3000) I had to squeeze and peel, but each time I peeled one, the skin stuck to my hands which meant I had to flick it off and most ended up on the legs of my table! I decided at that point that a third was enough and we would have some rice with it. The rest of the process was just as much of a hassle, as when I went to fry them, they completely fell to pieces and drowned in the oil. When I drained them to serve, they had to be put back together which probably meant they had taken on 3 times too much oil. I am highly confident I wont be making them again. I am not made for Acaraje, even though they are probably very good when done on a street stall in Rio.

Vatapa is a totally different job. It was incredibly simple to do and tasted great (if not a little salty). It was very different to any curry I had made before due to the ingredients (peanuts and prawns) but Dom was pretty happy with it.

Review:

Vatapa is great. If you want a completely different type of curry which has heat in depth and doesn’t need meat, then this is you guy. However, it is quite salty and due to the fact that it had two cups of salted nuts in it, it isn’t a low calorie dish!

Acaraje might be good, but mine were crap. It was a slog to make and just when I thought I was done, they fell into a thousand bits. I think I need to go to Brazil to know what these are supposed to be like, but my Western European hands could not feel the samba required to make these. I would imagine they need samba hands and I used town-hall -ballroom-dancing hands.

Finally – the pic is a bit crappy this week. Looks like mush. Don’t be too put off though. The Vatapa is good!

Recipe:

Vatapa:

Take 4 slices of white bread and rip them up. Put them in a bowl and soak with Coconut Milk. After 10 mins or so, blitz it all into a paste in a food processor.

After cleaning the processor, then grind up 200g of salted peanuts and put them aside

Bring to the boil 500ml of fish stock in a pan and then add a chopped clove of garlic and juice of a lime.

Back in the processor, blend an onion, two chillies and another garlic clove. Put that in a large dish and gently fry in oil. After about 7 mins add the ground nuts and keep it going for 5 mins more.

Now throw everything outstanding together and let it cook for about 7-10 mins. It will thicken up well with the bread-paste.

Acaraje recipe.

Don’t ask me. Mine were crap. Look it up online!

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5 thoughts on “Week 6. Brazil. Vatapá & Acarajé

  1. Yoko just told me about your project, this is fantastic as we just finished to watched “Julie and Julia”. I read all your blogs so far and this is amazing.
    I will follow you every weeks and hope to be able to go back to London and spend one of your special Thurday night with you, Des and Henry.
    Bon appetit a tous!!

    • Salut Julien!
      Thanks so much for the comment. I’d love you to share a Thursday. Mate – I hope you are coping with the heat over there. Sounds unbelievable!
      Love to you both

  2. Ohhhhh my comment that I made last night from my phone didn’t show up so let me start again!

    Let me tell you I looooove acaraje! It is my favourite Brazilian food. Whenever I visit Brazil… The first thing I do when coming out of the airport is head for the aracaje stand opposite the airport exit and devour that!

    I know how hard it is to make it I tried a few times and it was an absolute disaster. It is almost impossible to heat the oil hot enough and the way palm oil splashes and splatters is a nightmare. I settle for moi moi instead which you can get from any Nigerian food shop. It is like steamed Acaraje. In Brazil they call it abara.

    If I knew where I could get it in London I would be there aaaaaall the time!

    • That is a fantastic comment. That you. I could tell from the ingredients at how much I knew I would love them, but was so frustrated with how I saw them tall to pieces in front of my eyes. My wife and I were debating whether to go to Brazil or Argentina next year. With the Acarje at the airport in Brazil….I think I know where I want to go! Yum. I will look in the Nigerian version – not sure where my nearest store is, but I will get looking right now!

  3. Hi everyone,
    I’m so excited, I got to choose this week’s country, although Evil (Joe) can’t do it because he’s gadding around the south of France. He is sifting around at the moment showing off his tattoo. Anyway, he is the most fantastic cook, so you all better get your butts over here in a couple of years for the feast.
    Amy xxx

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