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brazilian white bean and shrimp cake (acaraje) recipe with mango salsa

August 4, 2009

This dish was a new one for your humble correspondent.

Watching a Latin cooking show a year or so ago, acaraje, a street food staple in Brazil and Nigeria, was being made by the truckload.  Acaraje, you ask?  A seasoned white bean and shrimp fritter/cake of sorts that’s usually deep fried in palm oil, split in half once cooked, and filled with a spicy paste of dried shrimp, cashews, palm oil, etc.  Totally different than anything I’ve ever cooked/eaten, the ingredients by themselves are all winners so I reasoned why not see if the whole (er, finished product) is better and greater than the sum of the individual parts (ingredients).  In lay terms that means I cooked it.

Now, my acaraje is not 100% authentic:  palm oil is hard to find (not to mention it ain’t the healthiest thing in the world) and the whole dried shrimp thing is hard to come by.  Not to mention the whole mango salsa thing is probably sacrilegious, but I can live with that.  Either way, this recipe is easy, healthy and creates a light, moist, textured, and absolutely delicious acaraje.  Definitely a must try.  Really.


1 medium onion, diced

2 minced cloves of garlic

1 finely minced jalapeno or habanero pepper (habanero in my book)

1.5 lbs. of shrimp:  shelled, deveined, and roughly chopped into .5 inch pieces

1 large can (1 lb. 13 ozs) and medium can (16 ozs) of cooked white navy beans

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

A handful of chopped cilantro

White flour

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno/habanero pepper, drained white beans, cumin (whole and ground), cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste to a large bowl.  Mash the beans about 60% (with 0% being their current state and 100% being a smooth paste).

Pretty acaraje.  Veggies first.

Veggies first. Leftover red onions added.

Proper bean mashing.

Proper bean mashing.

Mix in the shrimp and flour.  You’re looking for a rather thick and sticky consistency…add more flour if needed.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours:  this will make the mixture easier to handle and allows the flavors to meld.

Shrimp added to the party

Shrimp added to the party

When ready to cook form individual cakes, about 3 inches in diameter and .75 inches thick.  Coat in white flour.

Add 3 TBS vegetable oil to a pan over medium high heat.  Once hot carefully add the acaraje, cooking for 3-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and the shrimp is cooked.  NOTE:  you may need to cover the pan to help cook the acaraje through and through without burning.

Flour coated

Flour coated

What you're looking for.

What you're looking for.

Serve with:

Top with mango salsa and serve with avocado, Brahma beer, and much Caipirinha.

Topped with mango salsa.  You SO want this.

Topped with mango salsa. You SO want this.

One Comment leave one →
  1. sachin permalink
    August 10, 2009 1:57 pm

    Damn good stuff- i expect some made for me when i visit NJ in fall ( as well as some caiprinhas

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