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Shrimp Mozambique is a famous dish that’s wildly popular in Portuguese restaurants. The shrimp is simmered in a bold and savory garlic sauce that’s made from beer, an array of seasonings and a dash of hot sauce. White rice and fried potatoes are commonly served as sides.
I’m at that stage of my life where I hold memories from my childhood just a bit closer. Even though we are Cape Verdean, Portuguese food brings up memories of eating out with my father on weekends. One thing about him was that he always made time for us growing up, even though he worked crazy long hours. Showing off his two baby girls is everything for my dad!
Living in Rhode Island, there’s no shortage of Portuguese restaurants but our favorite was this one place in Pawtucket, that isn’t around anymore – Lisboa a Noite. Whew! A throwback! The clientele was largely Cape Verdean so my dad was like the mayor in that place! Their seafood dishes were always on point and Shrimp Mozambique was my go-to!
What is Shrimp Mozambique?
Shrimp Mozambique (or Moçambique)is a seafood dish that’s simmered in a bold and savory garlic sauce made from beer, an array of seasonings and a dash of hot sauce. White rice and fried potatoes are commonly served as sides. The shrimp can be cooked in their casings but many restaurants will peel the shrimp for you and leave the heads off.
For this recipe, I prefer to keep the shrimp in their shells and leave the heads on, but you certainly don’t have to. Reason I like to keep everything on is because it just ups the flavor in my opinion. Keeping the shrimp in their casings locks the flavor in and protects the shrimp from overcooking. As for the heads, I like to leave those on too as they are tasty, sweet and said to be rich in anti-oxidants.
If you’re not a fan of keeping the head or shell on, you can always remove them! You’ll have to adjust your cooking time slightly, which I explain how to do.
How to season Shrimp Mozambique:
With Shrimp Mozambique, the color of the sauce always varies. This is largely due to the fact that every cook seasons the dish slightly differently. Shrimp Mozambique can vary in color from light yellow to deep orange. For this recipe, the color of the sauce is on the deeper side, and that’s a result of the seasonings I use:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Ground annatto
- Dried oregano
- Ground cumin
- Saffron (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Bay leaves
If you don’t have all of these seasonings on hand, don’t panic! Sazon is a great substitute, and is commonly used to prepare Shrimp Mozambique. Although I like to build the flavors of the dish myself, a seasoning blend like sazon is convenient and cost efficient. Plus it gives great color so make sure to buy the one that contains saffron.
Shrimp Mozambique – Other Ingredients
- Large shrimp (shell and heads on or off)
- 11.2 ounce bottle of Portuguese lager – Super Bock and Sagres are two of the most popular Portuguese beers in the States. They are both lagers. If you can’t find them in your area, any pale lager will do.
- Salted butter
- Hot sauce – made from piri-piri or cayenne peppers
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Lemon, cut into wedges
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Bay leaves
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
How to make Shrimp Mozambique
Steps 1 and 2: Rinse and Season the shrimp
Wash/rinse the shrimp thoroughly, you can leave the shell/heads on or remove them, depending on what your preference is. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel after rinsing.
In a large bowl, season the shrimp with the dry seasonings: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground annatto, dried oregano, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle the shrimp with a tablespoon of the olive oil, and toss gently. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1-4 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Cook the aromatics
Melt the butter in a dutch oven or large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and onions and cook them until they are clear and fragrant. Then add the bay leaves, saffron and stir in the hot sauce.
Step 4: Make a beer reduction
Add the lager to the pan and let it cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The lager will reduce slightly. Add the remaining olive oil in a slow and steady stream while stirring constantly. Let cook for another 3 minutes.
Step 5: Cook the shrimp
Add the shrimp and watch it closely. Once the shrimp turns pink on both sides, turn the flame down even lower and cover the pan. Let the shrimp cook for 10 more minutes in the shells. If your shrimp is peeled, turn the burner off as soon as both sides of the shrimp turn pink.
Step 6: Add lemon, fresh cilantro and let rest
Once the shrimp is cooked, add a squeeze of 1 lemon wedge, and stir in the chopped cilantro. Turn the flame off, give the shrimp a final stir, and let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors meddle (2-3 minutes for peeled shrimp, 5-10 minutes for shrimp in its shell).
Step 7: Plate and Serve
Present the shrimp on a platter or individual plates over rice. Make sure to spoon lots of sauce over the shrimp! Serve fried potatoes or crusty bread on the side for dipping. Garnish with remaining lemon wedges.
Nothing complements a Portuguese dish better than a cold beer or a glass of vinho verde!
More Cape Verdean and Portuguese Recipes!
- Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup Recipe)
- Bitoque Recipe (Portuguese-Style Steak with Egg)
- Bacalhau e Grão de Bico (Cape Verdean Salted Cod with Chickpeas)
- Portuguese Style Fried Calamari Recipe – Lulas Fritas
- Arroz’d Fava – Cape Verdean Style Rice with Lima Beans Recipe