Archive for February, 2011

“Catupiry” shrimp

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Brazilian, Cheese, Food, Seafood

Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 7 (Espírito Santo)


History: Catupiry is a creamy cheese quite common in Brazilian cuisine, usually present in sauces for chicken or shrimp recipes (and also in some pizza flavors). I found this recipe in the book for the state of Espírito Santo, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in many of other states as well.

Variation from the original: I used store-bought tomato sauce instead of chopped tomatoes; I grated the onion instead of chopping it; I skipped the garlic (didn’t have at home) and cilantro (guests didn’t like it) which the recipe from the book asked; I also skipped the “urucum oil”, since I have no idea what “urucum” is, probably some tree which is native of that state; I didn’t use as much cheese as the recipe asked for (it asked for 4 cups, I only had about 1, and it turned out to be enough, with the addition of 1/2 cup of milk).

Ingredients from specialty stores: The Catupiry cheese. My wife returned from a trip where she got it in a Brazilian store, but I’ve seen it in some stores around the Seattle area as well. If you don’t have it, a friend of mine made a similar recipe with equal parts of cream cheese (Philadelphia, Neufchatel) and Muenster cheeses.


  • 20oz shrimp (shelled, deveined)
  • juice of 1 lime (about 3 tbsp.)
  • 8oz catupiry cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Season the shrimp with the lime juice, salt and pepper, leave it for at least 15 minutes. In a large frying pan, sauté the shrimp in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan; in my large pan I used two batches) with about 2 tbsp. of oil for each batch, then reserve it.

In the same pan, heat 2 tbsp. of oil, then add the onion, until it starts to change color. Add the tomato sauce, and stir well for about 2 minutes. Add the cheese, and stir to blend. Finally add the milk and the shrimp back.

Serve with rice and sautéed potatoes. I also had a small fennel/tomato/green salad along with it.



Source: The tuna I learned from my father; the puree was created in house.


History: This isn’t a typical Brazilian dish, so I can’t tell a story for it, except that my father prepared it a few times and I love it, so I decided to make it last weekend. It’s also quite simple as well.

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • For the tuna:
    • 1 tuna steak (not frozen, at least 1/2” thick, closer to 1” is better) per person
    • soy sauce (about 3 tbsp., enough to coat well all the fish
    • olive oil (enough to coat a non-stick pan)
    • sesame seeds (enough to cover the surface of the fish
    • salt & pepper (not too much salt, since the soy sauce is already quite salty)
  • For the puree:
    • 1 butternut squash (about 2-3lb), peeled, seeded, cut into small cubes
    • 1 whole (medium) onion, grated
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger (fresh ginger would be better, but I didn’t have it at home)
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • salt & pepper

Leave the tuna steaks marinating in soy sauce and pepper for at least 15 minutes.

Cook the squash until it can be easily mashed with a fork, then mash it and reserve. In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil, and add the grated onion, mixing until it starts to change color. Add the ground ginger and the squash, mixing well. Add the milk slowly, mixing to blend until the desired consistency (depending on the size of the squash, you may need a little less or more of the milk).

On a a large non-stick pan, heat the oil for at least a minute (to leave it really hot). Add a little salt to the surface of the tuna steaks, lightly brush some oil, and pack the sesame seeds on both sides. Cook on the hot pan for about 2-4 minutes each side (depending on the thickness), to leave it rare to medium-rare inside. Serve it with a leafy salad.



Queijo de Coalho

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Brazilian, Cheese, Food
This is not a recipe per se, but the quest for “queijo de coalho” in the Seattle area. It’s a kind of cheese so common in our hometown, that many times we don’t realize how much we like it until we can’t find it.
“Queijo de coalho” is a kind of pasteurized cheese, with a slight acidic taste. There are actually a few varieties, some more “packed” (dense), some with more holes in the middle. They also vary depending on how they hold on when fried – some will melt almost completely, some will hold more of its shape, while some lie in the middle, creating a wonderful crispy crust which is almost as good (and sometimes even better) as the cheese itself.
Back to our search. Granted, we didn’t expect to find it here. But we thought that we’d find some similar kind, after all, it’s quite inexpensive and seemingly so easy to make (you can find it in even the smallest street markets in our home city). No such luck.
The first “candidate” for the “coalho” replacement was a Mexican-style cheese which actually looked promising at first: the “Ranchero ® Queso Fresco”. Not too expensive (less than $7/lb), found in most supermarkets (at least in our region), it looked like the real thing. Eaten raw it doesn’t resemble queijo de coalho at all – it tastes more like another Brazilian cheese (“Minas”). But it actually fries quite well, melting just enough to create a nice crust, while staying firm if you use thick pieces, or melting away more if you use thin ones. It still doesn’t taste like coalho after fried, but it can be used as an adequate substitute in most recipes.
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That’s when we then discovered plain cheese curds. They taste really close to the real thing (a denser version) when raw. The brand we found (Beecher’s) was also quite moist (especially fresh ones). When fried, they also taste like the real thing, which is a huge plus. And they also melt great – I’ve already used them in a recipe in which the cheese is melted to create a kind of sauce. But they’re not as easy to find as the previous one – I only found it near the Pike Place Market in Seattle (where I don’t go as often as I should) or in some farmer markets (which are closed between November and April). They’re also pricier than the Ranchero ($16/lb), and their biggest drawback is that they don’t look anything like the real thing – I could only find them in small, bite-sized pieces. Only a problem for recipes which have a nice presentation, as they lack the original shape.
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Recently a friend mentioned that he discovered the grail of coalho-wannabes: Halloumi (thanks Mario!). A Greek/Cypriot-style cheese, it has the taste of the coalho when raw (albeit a dry one), and it actually looks like the real thing (although it’s even denser than the curds). It is the most expensive of them ($20/lb), but what makes it stand out is that you can fry it and it holds its shape really well (it’s self-described as “the cheese that grills”). So for recipes in you need a pretty slab of fried cheese (like the “cartola” – a topic for another post in the future – pictured here), it’s the way to go. The only thing that I didn’t like too much about it (besides the price) was that it is quite dry and it doesn’t melt well, so you can’t get a nice crust as you could with the other “candidates”).
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So which one is the best? As almost everything, it depends. The “queso fresco” is definitely the one which resembles the original the least, but since it’s cheap (and easy to find), we use it often to quell our fried cheese fix. As far as taste, I personally prefer the curds (both raw and fried), but sometimes if you’re making something that you want to look nice, I’d say go with the most expensive one. The table below compares the three kinds of cheese in their level of “coalhoness” (1 = pretender, 5 = contender).
Cheese Queso Fresco Plain Curds Halloumi
Brand we tried (price) Ranchero (~$6.65/lb Fred Meyer) Beecher’s (~$16/lb near Pike Place or Whole Foods Market) Shepherds of Cyprus (~$20/lb Whole Foods Market)
Taste (raw) OneStar FiveStar FourStar
Taste (fried) TwoStar FiveStar FourStar
Appearance FourStar OneStar FiveStar
Texture ThreeStar FourStar FourStar
Melting Point FiveStar FourStar OneStar
Crustiness FourStar ThreeStar TwoStar
Let me know if you find any other candidates!