- Written by Cynthia Presser
I am not an advocate for the use of microwave oven in cooking, so when one of my mom’s best friends, Leila, told me she had a delicious, EASY and much QUICKER version of Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga) that was mostly prepared in the microwave I was not convinced at first. But she was firm: “You have to try”. Since Leila is a great cook, I decided to give it a shot. Well, I am glad to say that she was right! The pulp of the pumpkin was moist and soft; and the cream cheese incorporated into the shrimp sauce perfectly. This classic Brazilian recipe is normally prepared in the conventional oven so take a look at my other version of Shrimp in a Pumpkin. The version made in the conventional oven has that delicious slightly roasted flavor; and the version made in the microwave is more moist and, of course, easier to make. Well, both recipes are slightly sweet, creamy and delicious. If you like spicier, use more jalapenos in the sauce, or remove them completely if you prefer it mild; or use a different kind of hot pepper to your preference. Enjoy!
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
- 8 ounces cream cheese, preferably Catupiry (see Cook’s Notes)
Place pumpkin in a large working surface. With a sharp knife, carefully cut off pumpkin top and save it. Remove the seeds, cover with parchment paper and microwave for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pulp is soft. Remove and set aside to cool.
Place olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and jalapeno. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir garlic and cook until fragrant, 40 seconds. Reduce heat and add tomatoes. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to high and add shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until shrimp starts to curl, 3 minutes. Remove from heat, fold in scallions and cilantro. Set aside.
Spread half of the cream cheese inside the pumpkin walls. Place half of shrimp sauce inside the pumpkin and scoop remaining cream cheese over the sauce. Cover with the remaining sauce.
Transfer pumpkin to microwave and cover with the top. Microwave for 10 minutes. Remove top and scoop pulp and shrimp sauce over individual serving plates. Serve with a side of jasmine rice.
Catupiry is a variety of requeijão, the Brazilian style cream cheese. Mild, less sour and slightly nuttier in flavor then the American cream cheese, Catupiry can be hard to find in the US. If not available in international stores or Latin markets nearby you, mascarpone (Italian style cream cheese) can serve as a substitute.
In Brazil, this dish can be prepared year round, since pumpkins are available throughout the year. The best pumpkin variety for this recipe is the Moranga (see picture), which is similar to Baby Pam Sugar Pie, but larger. For this recipe, I recommend the use of Baby Pam or other similar kinds of medium-large pumpkins. Butternut squash can be used as substitute during off-season months; just cut the squash in half crosswise and use each half as an individual portion.
The Brazilian variety, called Moranga, is similar to a Baby Pam. The one in the picture I bought at a Farmer´s Market, in Curitiba, Brazil.