Spicy and exotic, Vatapa (vah-tah-pah) is a traditional Brazilian soup-like fish stew. Serve as a first course by itself or, accompanied by boiled rice and fried plantain, as a main course.fl. oz. olive oil onions, finely chopped garlic cloves, crushed green chillis, finely chopped

4 oz. dried shrimps, finely minced

8 oz. roasted peanuts, crushed

2 ½ oz. yellow corn meal

1 pint water

1 teaspoon salt

2- teaspoon black pepper

2 oz. butter

1 lb. grey mullet, filleted and cut into

1-inch cubes

1 lb. prawns or shrimps, shelled and deveined

1 coconut, grated or

6 oz. desiccated coconut H pints hot water

First prepare the coconut milk. Place the coconut flesh or desiccated coconut in a medium-sized mixing bowl and pour over the water. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Line a fine strainer with a piece of cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a medium-sized mixing bowl and pour in the coconut mixture. When all the liquid has drained through the cheesecloth, remove it from the strainer and squeeze the cheesecloth until the coconut is completely dry. Discard the coconut. Set the coconut milk aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic and chillis and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown.

Add the minced shrimps, peanuts and corn meal to the pan. Gradually pour in the reserved coconut milk, the water, salt and pepper, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large frying-pan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the fish and prawns or shrimps and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the fish and prawns or shrimps to the saucepan. Cook the stew for a further 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the stew into a warmed, large tureen and serve immediately.

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