Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga)
This dish is obviously designed for a specific festive time of the year, using large bright orange pumpkins, making it a very appealing table centerpiece while serving. Small mini pumpkins can also be used for individual servings, requiring a little more work to prepare. This native Brazilian dish would be a wonderful addition to Low Country Southern Cuisine as it can be prepared with the amazing shrimp that Charleston has to offer and the traditional pumpkin in the fall.
Ingredients (serve 6)
A 6 lb pumpkin or other squash
2 lbs medium shrimp, cleaned, peeled and deveined
2 tsp salt
1 small serrano or jalapeno chili (optional), halved and seeded 3 bay leaves
2 cups shrimp stock
2 medium onions, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups cream cheese
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp good-quality curry powder
2 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
4 Tbsp finely-chopped Italian parsley
Cut a circular opening in the top of the pumpkin (as you would for a jack-o-lantern). Using a spoon and your hands, remove all the seeds and strings from inside the pumpkin. Wash the pumpkin thoroughly inside and out, then dry the inside with a paper towel. Reserve.
Preheat the oven to 205C (400F).
Put the shrimp in a large mixing bowl, add the fresh-squeezed juice of two limes, the salt, the halved chili and the bay leaves. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for about one hour (while the pumpkin roasts).
Wrap the pumpkin in aluminum foil, place a large baking pan, and roast in the oven for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve, keeping warm. No not turn off the oven.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp each of butter and olive oil, then saute the chopped onions for a few minutes, or until the onions are transparent but not browned. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, or until the tomato begins to break down. Add the cream cheese, and combine thoroughly, making sure that the cheese has melted and combined with the other ingredients. Reserve, keeping warm.
In a mixing bowl containing the shrimp stock, whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until there are no lumps. Mix in the curry powder and optional Tabasco sauce. Stir this mixture into the cream cheese/tomato sauce, and reserve, keeping warm.
In a large frying pan, heat 3 Tbsp each of olive oil and neutral vegetable oil. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and saute (in two batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding). Cook for a few minutes only, stirring constantly but gently, until all the shrimp have become opaque and turned pink. Do not overcook. Stir the shrimp gently in the sauce mixture.
Open the top of the pumpkin (leaving the rest of it still covered with aluminum foil. Reserve the top. Pour the shrimp mixture into the pumpkin, filling it completely
if possible. Return the filled pumpkin to the hot oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the aluminum foil, then place the pumpkin on a large serving platter. Sprinkle the surface of the shrimp mixture with chopped parsley. Serve on a buffet table or at the center of a dining table, with a large ladle for serving the shrimp from inside the pumpkin, along with a bit of the cooked pumpkin.
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PASCALE FERRARO, a French girl who grew up and worked in tourism in West Africa and Indian Ocean, as well as Brazil, before following the love of her life to the US. A nomad, a citizen of the world with a true passion for travel and meeting people, because this is what life is all about, encounters and exchanges. Recently settled in the vineyards of Burgundy, France but that was not enough. On the road again to find another anchor point, she fell in love with Charleston and its wonders, the seaside, the sun, the festivals and the people…..There is no place like Home!