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Shrimp Stew with Kabocha Squash and Okra

Shrimp, okra, and kabocha-squash stew shows the African influences in northern Brazilian cuisine.

  • Servings: 6

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2004


  • 1 1/2 pounds medium whole shrimp, heads intact (do not peel)
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 large shallots, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 medium kabocha squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
  • 12 okra (about 5 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. Toss shrimp, ginger, and paprika in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, and adding more oil as needed, cook shrimp, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes total. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate to cool; keep pan on stove with heat turned off.

  3. Set aside 6 shrimp for garnish. Shell remaining shrimp, transferring shells and heads to a large square of cheesecloth as you work. Set aside shrimp; tie cheesecloth securely into a bundle.

  4. Add remaining tablespoon oil to pan, along with shallots, garlic, chile, and cumin. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in squash; add cheesecloth bundle and 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until squash begins to soften, about 15 minutes.

  5. Stir in coconut milk and okra. Simmer, covered, until squash is cooked through and soft and the sauce is thick, about 30 minutes. Transfer cheesecloth bundle to a sieve set over the pan; squeeze liquid into sauce, and discard bundle. Stir in reserved shelled shrimp and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Divide among small serving bowls. Garnish with reserved shell-on shrimp, and, if desired, cilantro leaves.

Cook's Notes

If you can't find whole shrimp (with heads intact), use regular medium unpeeled shrimp.

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