Rio Grande do Norte, which is one of the largest shrimp-producing states in Brazil as well as an important source of cashew nuts (castanha de caju). When buying cashews for this dish, don't pay extra for whole cashews - most bulk food stores and health food stores sell broken cashews for a significantly lower price than whole ones. It's also best not to buy ground cashews, as they are too finely ground for this dish. To get the proper grind for this recipe, simply briefly process the nuts in a food processor until they are in small chunks. Be sure to stop processing long before they become pulverized or begin to form a paste.
The sauce in the recipe - a passion fruit (maracujá)-flavored mayonnaise - might be difficult to make in areas where fresh passion fruits are not available. A delicious substitute is mayonnaise flavored with fresh lime juice.
RECIPE - Cashew Tree Shrimp (Camarão Cajueiro)
For the shrimp:
3/4 lb (380 gr) medium-sized shrimp, cleaned, headless, and peeled with only tails left attached
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 free-range eggs
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely-chopped, roasted, unsalted cashew nuts (see above)
Neutral vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1 medium fresh passion fruit
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whole-fat, unflavored yogurt
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Make the sauce: Cut the passion fruit in half. Place a fine sieve over a small bowl, and empty fruit pulp into the sieve. Reserve fruit halves. Let drain, then lightly squeeze the seed to extract more juice. Reserve the juice and the seeds. In another small bowl add the mayonnaise,yogurt and sugar, then stir to combine thoroughly. Add the passion fruit juice, and stir again. If desired, return the sauce to one of the fruit halves, or put in small serving bowl. Add a few of the reserved seeds and a dash of the juice to top of sauce to decorate.
Make the shrimp: Season the shrimp with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the flour on a large deep plate. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the bread crumbs and chopped cashew nuts. Dredge the shrimps, one by one, in the flour, then dip them in the beaten eggs. Let excess egg drain away, the roll the shrimps in the bread crumb-cashew nut mixture. In a deep, heavy saucepan or deep fryer fry the shrimp until the are golden. Drain on paper towel.
Place the sauce in the middle of a serving platter. Surround with the shrimp, and serve immediately.
Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.