Brazilian-Style Acarajé with Vatapá (Bean Fritters Stuffed with Shrimp Paste)

Watch Feast TV host Cat Neville make this recipe from start to finish in our Go South episode. Produce and dairy provided by Ole Tyme Produce, wine provided by Missouri Wines with additional sponsorship provided by Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Co. and The Raphael Hotel. Thank you to our sponsors, who make the show possible.

Brazilian-Style Acarajé with Vatapá (Bean Fritters Stuffed with Shrimp Paste)

Recipe by Catherine Neville


  • 2 cups dried black eyed peas
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • grapeseed or coconut oil for frying

| Preparation - Acarajé | Lightly pulse the black eyes peas in a food processor to break them up just a bit and then soak in water – enough to cover – for a few hours. The skins will begin to rise to the surface. Strain those off and rub the beans in your hands, loosening the rest of the skins. You may need to change the water a few times to clean the beans entirely. Discard the skins and drain the water once the beans are clean.

In a food processor, combine the beans, onion and garlic and process until a paste is formed. Transfer the paste to a large bowl, add salt to taste and beat the paste with a clean wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes, until it is fluffy and aerated.

Heat oil in a frying pan. Once oil is hot, drop spoonfuls of the bean paste into the pan and fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel to drain.


  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • ½ cup cubed stale bread
  • ½ cup dried shrimp
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol (or another dried chile if necessary)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-inch knob ginger
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ pound raw shrimp, chopped
  • 4 fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
  • handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • coconut oil for frying

| Preparation - Vatapá | Combine coconut milk and stale bread in a bowl and allow to soak.

Add dried shrimp, cashews, peanuts, scallions, chiles, garlic and ginger to a food processor and process until a thick paste forms. Set aside.

Mash the bread and coconut milk to form a paste.

Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the shrimp paste. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute for a minute, then add shrimp and tomatoes, sauteing for a minute, then add coconut milk-bread paste and stir to combine. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for three or four minutes and then stir in cilantro and parsley and season to taste with salt. The vatapa should be firm but still creamy. If it is too firm, add more coconut milk.

| To Serve | Cut a slit in each acaraje and fill with a spoonful of vatapa. Garnish with cilantro if desired.