Shrimp Mozambique is a famous Portuguese dish inspired by bold spices and flavors of Africa. The shrimp is simmered in a bold garlic sauce that’s made with beer, high quality seasonings and a dash of hot sauce. White rice or fried potatoes are traditionally served with this quick and easy 30 minute dish.
If you love classic Portuguese dishes, check out this recipe for Carne de Porco à Alentejana!
Although not part of the weekly rotation in our Cape Verdean household, I grew up eating Shrimp Mozambique mainly in restaurants and at special gatherings. One thing that I love about being Cape Verdean is that we have a shared cuisine with other Portuguese-speaking cultures.
What is Shrimp Mozambique?
Shrimp Mozambique (also spelled Moçambique) is a shrimp dish that’s simmered in a bold and savory garlic sauce made from beer, seasonings and a dash of hot sauce. The shrimp is often cooked in its casings with the heads off, but I prefer to keep them on for flavor. Not to mention, shrimp heads are said to be loaded with anti-oxidants.
Shrimp Mozambique can range from mildly spicy to very spicy. This recipe is on the mild side and calls for a touch of hot sauce (piri-piri sauce is what is traditionally used). You can use pretty much any brand of hot sauce, since it can be hard to find piri-piri in certain areas.
Yes! It’s perfectly acceptable to use peeled shrimp, in fact a lot of restaurants will remove the casings prior to preparing the dish. It just makes it easier to eat. You’ll have to adjust the cooking time since shrimp cooks faster outside of its shell. Refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact cooking times.
Shrimp Mozambique can be served on its own as an appetizer but it’s often served with white rice and Portuguese-style fries. Although not traditional, I’ve also seen this dish served over pasta.
Here are the main ingredients that you’ll need:
- Seasonings – paprika, garlic and onion powder, ground annatto, dried oregano, ground cumin, saffron (optional), kosher salt, black pepper, bay leaves. Note: you can use yellow Sazon (the one that contains saffron) if you don’t have every seasoning on hand!
- Large shrimp (shell/heads on or off)
- Fats/oils – salted butter and extra-virgin olive oil
- Aromatics: Minced or crushed garlic and chopped white onion
- Portuguese lager – Super Bock and Sagres are two popular Portuguese beers that you can buy in the States. If you can’t find them in your area, any pale lager or non-sweet white wine will do.
- Hot sauce – made from piri-piri or cayenne peppers
- Fresh cilantro
With Shrimp Mozambique, the color of the sauce will vary depending on the seasonings you use. This dish can range in color from light yellow to deep orange.
As mentioned earlier, here are some acceptable substitutes
- You can use peeled shrimp with the heads off if that is your preference.
- Any pale lager can be used in place of the Portuguese beer.
- Sazon is a seasoning blend that contains garlic and onion powders, cumin, oregano, annatto and saffron. It’s a convenient and inexpensive substitute. Make sure to buy the one that contains saffron!
- You can use unsalted butter rather than salted butter. Just make sure to taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.
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, 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 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. Cook until the onions 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 liquid 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 the color closely. Flip each shrimp once the side facing up becomes pink. Once the shrimp is pink on both sides, turn the flame down even lower and cover the pan. Let the shrimp cook for 10 more minutes in their shells. For peeled shrimp, flip as soon as they turn pink and turn the burner off once pink on both sides.
Step 6: Add lemon, fresh cilantro and let rest
Once the shrimp is cooked, turn the burner off. Add a squeeze of 1 lemon wedge, and stir in the chopped cilantro. Give the shrimp and sauce a final stir. Cover and allow the flavors to settle for a few minutes before serving.
Step 7: Plate and Serve
Serve the shrimp on a platter or on 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!
Other recipes you’ll love
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below & consider scrolling down and leaving me a review if you REALLY liked it. Thanks!
Shrimp Mozambique – Traditional Recipe
- 2 pounds of large shrimp shell and heads on or off
- 11.2 ounce bottle of pale lager
- 2 tablespoons of salted butter
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 2 teaspoons minced or crushed garlic
- 1 small onion chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground annatto
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 small pinch of saffron optional
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea-salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- A few generous pinches of chopped cilantro
- Wash/rinse the shrimp thoroughly, you can leave the shells on or remove them, depending on your preference. Pat the shrimp dry using a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, season the shrimp with dry seasonings: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground annatto, dried oregano, ground cumin, kosher salt and black 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 1-4 hours, or overnight.
- Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and onions and cook them until fragrant. Add the bay leaves, saffron and stir in the hot sauce.
- Add the lager to the pan and let cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. The liquid will reduce in volume slightly. Add the remaining olive oil in a slow and steady stream while stirring constantly. Turn the flame down low and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and watch the color closely as it cooks. Once the shrimp turns pink turn the flame down even lower, cover the pot and let the shrimp cook for 10 minutes in the shells. For peeled shrimp, flip them once the sides facing up turn pink then turn the flame off as soon as the shrimp turns pink on both sides.
- Add a squeeze of 1 lemon wedge and stir in the chopped cilantro. Give the shrimp and sauce a final stir. Cover and let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to settle.
- Present the shrimp on a platter, or on 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 any remaining lemon wedges.
- Sagres and Super Bock are 2 Portuguese lagers that are sold in the US. If you can’t locate them, you can use any pale lager.
- 1 packet of Sazon can be used in place of the dry seasonings. Be sure to buy the yellow packets that contain saffron. You’ll still need to season the shrimp with salt and pepper!