Brazilian Vatapá

Brazilian Vatapá

Get right into the center of the Brazilian carnival with this popular street food, Vatapá. Original from Africa, it is known as a specialty from the region of Bahia and spread throughout Brazil. This recipe with a modern twist comes directly from Brazil. Ground annatto seeds add a warm, earthy flavor and natural red color. Though shrimp is a typical ingredient, Vatapá is just as popular without it.
Hands-on Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Brazilian
Servings 3


  • 1 lb raw shrimp cleaned
  • 1 cup coconut milk shake can well
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • up to 1 cup broth fish recommended
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 2 slices sandwich bread crust removed
  • salt
  • oil

Vatapá Culinary Spice Kit

  • Annatto, turmeric, ginger, cumin, white pepper, bay leaves


  • 1-2 tbsp peanuts ground
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 lime for juice
  • 8 oz watercress



  • Cut the bread into small pieces.
  • In a BOWL, add the bread and the coconut milk.
  • Let it soak for 15 minutes.
  • Mash it with a fork.


  • In a PAN, heat 2 tbsp oil over high heat.
  • Fry the shrimp until brown on all sides.
  • Take them out and set them aside.
  • Fry the onions over medium heat until translucent.
  • Add garlic, tomatoes, and Vatapá spices.
  • Stir fry for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk with the bread, salt to taste, and optionally peanuts.
  • Cook about 15 minutes over medium-low heat to get a thick creamy sauce. Add some broth if necessary.
  • Return the shrimp to reheat.
  • Optionally, add cilantro and lime juice to taste.


  • Serve with rice and optionally watercress or a fresh salad of your choice.
  • Enjoy!


  • Substitute the shrimp with fish filet (e.g. cod or snapper), cut into 1-inch pieces, or chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1/2-inch strips. Return them with the coconut milk.
  • Omit or substitute the shrimp with garbanzo beans.
  • Add 1-2 jalapeno pepper and/or 4 small sweet peppers to the onions, cut into thin slices.