Bobó de camarão (Prawn in Creamy Cassava Sauce)

The Bobó de Camarão - one of the great icons of Bahia cuisine - is of African origin. Bobó is probably a version of Itepé (creamy yam with dried prawn), a ritual dish of Candomblé, a religion brought by African slaves. 
Originally Bobó  was a very poor dish, made by slaves to satisfy their hunger; it is one of the so-called creamy foods (mush flour or mush tuber/root), as well as the pirão (angu). Nowadays bobó has become so rich and refined: a creamy cassava sauce with prawns, flavoured with coconut milk and palm oil. Bobó can be served as an appetizer or as a main course, accompanied by white rice, but farofa and salad are also amazing sides for this. 
The word bobó comes from the fongbê (Nigero-congolese language) word bovô
Fonte: NASCENTES, Antenor. Dicionário Etimológico Resumido, Instituto Nacional do Livro M.E.C., Rio de Janeiro, 1966, pp. 105. Consulted online on July 14, 2017.

Ingredients

  • • 1 kg haw prawn with shell (medium or large)
  • • 1 kg cassava root (about 800 g peeled cassava root)
  • • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • • 3 peeled, seeded and diced red tomatoes
  • • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • • 1 bay leaf
  • • 200 ml coconut milk
  • • 1 tablespoon palm oil
  • • juice of ½ lime
  • • salt and ground pepper
  • chilli pepper

Preparation method

1. Wash the prawns, peel and remove the black wire (intestine) on the back with a toothpick. Season with salt, ground pepper and lemon juice and set aside. 
2. Put the prawn shells and a little oil into a saucepan and fry on a high heat for a few minutes. Add 500 ml of water, bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes. Let it cool down and strain the stock through a sieve. 
3. Cut the cassava root into logs and peel. Cut logs in half, remove the "fibrous cord centre" and reduce all the pulp into small pieces. Click here to see how to clean cassava.  
4. Combine cassava pieces and prawn stock in a large pan, and add a little water to just cover the cassava. Cover the pan with a lid and cook cassava until tender and almost falling apart. 
5. Add the coconut milk to the boiled cassava still hot. Use a immersion blender to purée everything together. 
6. In a large pan sauté onion with oil until tender. Add the crushed garlic, chilli pepper, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, coriander and the bay leaf. Let simmer until tender, then add the prawn and cook for a few minutes more. 
7. Add the cassava purée to the prawn stew and mix well, then add the palm oil. Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasonings to taste. If Bobó gets too thick, thin it out with more water or coconut milk. 
8. Serve in a clay pot accompanied by white rice

Variants
• Sprinkle with chopped cashews.
• Sauté together ¼ sweet red pepper (finely chopped or blended) and onion. 
• Add a bit of dried prawn (hydrated and milled) to the prawn sauté. 
• Use 500 g chicken meat instead of prawn. 

Yield: 4 -6 servings
Posted on: 24 July 2017
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