- Written by Cynthia Presser
When I first moved to the US, I was very surprised to learn that most people - especially those who were cooking and talking about food on TV - did not think that the combination of shrimp (or shellfish in general) and cheese worked well together. I would think: “How in the world?! I bet these people have never been to Brazil!”.
One of my favorite combinations in Brazilian cuisine is shrimp and a creamy cheese called requeijão – which is our nuttier and creamier version of cream cheese.
There is a brand of requeijão named Catupiry – which has an extra luscious texture – that is amazing with shrimp. In fact, they go together so well that there is a dish named “Camarão com Catupiry”. Translating to English, it simply became “Shrimp with Catupiry”.
Several versions of this recipe are available - all of them have the creaminess and luxurious texture in common. Like most dishes from Brazil, white rice (I prefer jasmine) is the side of choice. To add a bit of crunch, shoe string potatoes are usually served on the side too - my husband rolls his eyes every time I add string shoe potatoes to a dish “Oh! This Brazilian thing”. Sorry, we like it. In fact, we love it!
My version is made in one single skillet that goes from stove top to oven. It has garlic, onions, and a bit of brandy for fun – and smoky sweetness. Béchamel sauce smoothers the shrimp before it is topped with Catupiry prior to broiling. It is simple to make.
As I mentioned, in Brazil we eat “Shrimp with Catupiry” over rice and shoe string potatoes, but I can see this recipe being served with slices of crusty bread (like a dip), or even mixed with elbow pasta for a Brazilian version of mac n’ cheese.
If you think that shrimp and cheese don’t go well together, give this recipe a shot. I bet that you will change your mind.
Shrimp with Catupiry (Camarão com Catupiry)
- 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tails left intact
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 ½ cups Catupiry
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
Rinse shrimp under cold water. Place in a large clean towel and pat dry gently. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and black pepper.
Set aside 7 shrimps for garnishing, leaving their tail intact. Remove the tails of the remaining shrimp, returning them to the bowl. Transfer the bowl to fridge.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to an oven-proof large skillet, set over high heat. Once oil is hot, add the 7 tail-on shrimps to the skillet. Fry for about 2 minutes, turning once. When shrimp turns pink and it develops slightly golden crispy edges, remove from skillet and set aside for garnishing.
To the same skillet, set over medium-high heat, add the remaining olive oil. Once oil is hot, add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft; 4 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to high and add the garlic and the remaining raw shrimp. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp turns pink on both sides; 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in brandy and cook for a few more seconds until it evaporates – watch closely since it might flame. Transfer shrimp to a bowl, scraping all bits from skillet. Set aside.
To the same skillet, set over medium-low heat, add butter. Once butter melts and stars foaming, add flour slowly (no more than one tablespoon at a time) whisking it vigorously until a smooth roux forms. Keep whisking for an extra couple of minutes, until flour is cooked and roux is light golden brown. Add milk, ½ cup at a time, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Once all milk has been added, keep whisking until the sauce thickens and starts to boil slightly. Reduce heat to low and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Fold in the mixture of shrimp and onion. Adjust salt if needed. Remove from heat.
Place oven rack about 12 inches from top (it should be one level above the center) and turn broiler on high.
Using a teaspoon, take spoons full of Catupiry and top the skillet, covering the shrimp sauce partially. Place skillet in the oven and allow the top to turn golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Garnish with the shrimp and parsley. Serve immediately over jasmine rice, with shoe string potatoes on the side if you wish.
Catupiry can be purchased online, or at Latin and Brazilian grocery stores.
Shrimp for the garnish should have the tails left intact.
The roux - which serves as the thickening agent for the sauce - should be ready when it's light golden brown and foamy.
The Béchamel sauce - or white sauce - should be smooth. Whisking vigorously is very important. Once it thickens, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
The shrimp that was cooked with the onions is folded into the Béchamel sauce.
Once shrimp is settled in the sauce, you can use a paper towel to clean the edges of the skillet for a nicer presentation.
The Catupiry is spooned over the sauce before going into the oven.
After broiling for a few minutes, the Catupiry melts and the top has become slightly charred.
Garnish the top with the shrimp and parsley. Serve with jasmine rice and shoe string potatoes.
Ready to eat!
It's impossible to resist this delicious, and rich traditional Brazilian recipe!