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 minutes
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.
Marceline Reid-Jaques
Marceline Reid-Jaques
Karen Jones
Karen Jones
Wonderful, flavorful meals using readily available ingredients!
ann davis
ann davis
My daughter gave me a subscription as a Christmas present while our families were quarantining together. It was so much fun! It introduced us to several cuisines that were totally new to us. The recipes were easy to follow and the spices were transformative - fresh and pungent and delicious.
Jessica Brown
Jessica Brown
The best way to try new dishes!

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