Bahia-Style Shrimp in Coconut Sauce

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails left on
3 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Annatto oil or corn oil
1 small onion, minced
6 scallions, white and light green parts, minced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, minced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, minced
6 plum tomatoes, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, halved and seeded
1 Tbsp. minced cilantro leaves and stems
lime wedges, for serving


In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the garlic, lime juice and 1 tsp. of salt. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the annatto Oil until shimmering. Add the onion, scallions and red and green bell peppers and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the minced tomatoes and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and add the tomato sauce, coconut milk, chile and 1 tsp. of salt. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by one-fourth, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they are pink and opaque, about 5 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a serving dish and discard the chile (if preferred). Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Serve with white rice.

Recipe by Maricel Presilla, from the May 2003 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.