Camarão na Moranga, (shrimp in a pumpkin)

As you may know, I’ve been spending some time in Brazil this summer. After a week of tourist food, I came met up with some old friends from Sao Paulo. They were sitting around this glorious pumpkin full of spices and shrimp. It was amazing!

img_20160801_234728 img_20160801_234725This is the real deal! check out the chillies! YUM! img_20160802_000204

I had to try this at home! I went online and compared several recipes to try to get a sense of what the core components of the recipe are. Usually when you try something totally different, you can quickly find the common elements by cross comparing a few recipes. Most of the recipes I found consisted of the following:

  1. Cook the squash pumpkin. Some said to open and clean first, one said to fill with sugar water, and one said not to open. I opened the pumpkin and cleaned out the seeds and flesh. They all said to wrap the pumpkin in foil. Done. One thing that none of recipes mentioned is that it takes a LONG time to cook a squash pumpkin! I would estimate over 2 hours at 350.
  2. Make a red sauce. There were many variations on this, but basically melt down some onions and garlic, then add diced tomatoes and spices.
  3. Prepare a broth, preferably with the shrimp shells, strain and dump that into your red sauce, along with cream (again various types listed in various recipes) and cook your shrimp in it for a few minutes.
  4. Add cream cheese. Most recipes say to do this to the inside of the cooked pumpkin, then pour the red sauce in and cook the pumpkin for 10 minutes. I would say that this is where things went wrong for me. The cream cheese didn’t really have time to melt into the sauce very well, and the entire thing seems rather heavy and overly creamy.

I have only had this dish once before, and I can’t wait to try it again. Next time I will probably use less cream and cream cheese, and aim for a little more savory and less creamy result.