Hailing from the Bahia region of northern Brazil, no celebration would be complete without this comforting dish of prawns, cassava, coconut and ghee. Food Safari Water
- 500 g medium green prawns, peeled and deveined, heads reserved
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Sea salt
- 100 ml olive oil
- 2 young coconuts
- 55 ml palm oil
- ½ bunch coriander, finely chopped, for garnish
- pickled chillies, to serve
- 200 g small cooked peeled prawns
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tomatoes, deseeded
- 50 g roasted peanuts
- 50 g roasted cashew nuts
- 500 ml (2 cups) coconut cream
- 1 kg frozen cassava
- 40 g butter
- 1 tbsp rock salt
- 60 ml (¼ cup) ghee
- 60 ml (¼ cup) palm oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1½ cups cassava flour
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ bunch coriander, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 garlic, finely minced
- 500 g (2½ cups) long grain rice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time: 30 min
Place the peeled green prawns in a bowl with the lime juice, garlic, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to combine, then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight if time permits.
Meanwhile, crack open the coconuts and measure out 400 ml of the coconut water. Scoop out the flesh of one coconut, thinly slice and set aside.
To make the prawn stock, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the prawn heads and stir until the shells become a nice pink colour. Add the coconut water, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half and there is a strong prawn aroma. Remove from the heat and strain, pressing down on the prawn heads. Discard the prawn heads and set the stock aside.
For the bobo base, preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the prawns on a baking tray. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 10- 15 minutes or until the prawn meat dries out a little and becomes a bit hard. Place the dried prawns in a blender with the onion, tomato, roasted nuts and 400 ml of the coconut cream. Blend until a fine but thick paste forms. Remove and set aside.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the cassava, butter and rock salt and cook until very tender. Drain and add to a blender with 1½ cups of the bobo paste (don’t let the cassava get cold, otherwise, you won’t be able to blend it). With the motor running, slowly add enough of the prawn stock to get a very fine smooth mash consistency (you may not need to use all the stock). You might need to do this in batches. Add a little of the remaining coconut cream if needed to blend.
For the farofa, melt the ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the palm oil, then the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the cassava flour and mix well. Season to taste and cook, stirring continuously until toasted. Remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and set aside.
For the rice, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the rice. Add the remaining salt and mix well. Add 1 litre of water, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stand, covered for another 10 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the palm oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the marinated prawns for 2 minutes on each side or until just pink but not cooked all the way through. Remove all but 10 prawns. Cook the remaining prawns in the pan for another minute on each side or until just cooked and set aside for garnish.
In the same pan over low heat, add the cassava paste and cook, stirring for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 100 ml coconut cream and cook, stirring continuously until the paste is cooked and the colour has changed. Add most of the sliced young coconut (reserve a little for garnish) and the remaining 50 ml palm oil and season with salt to taste. Return the prawns to the pan and mix through. Cook, stirring continuously for 5 minutes or until the prawns are completely cooked. Pour into a serving dish. Garnish with the reserved prawns, the reserved young coconut flesh and the chopped coriander. Serve with rice, farofa and pickled chillies.
• You can buy pre-made farofas from select Brazilian grocers.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Belinda So.