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Brazilian Ingredients

by Reuel J. Smith

introduction  |  ingredients  |  recipes  |  cookbooks

Beans (feijao)
Beans appear on the table daily in many forms and colors. Some consider the black bean (feijao preto) to be the preferred national bean. It is not uncommon, however, to find dried red beans, blonde beans, brown beans, and pink beans plus black-eyed peas, chick peas, and others in the markets.

An important ingredient throughout the country, it is used in soups, cocktails, poultry, fish, and shellfish recipes, as well as desserts and sweets. Various forms are utilized: unripe green coconuts (coco verde); ripe yellow or brown coconuts (coco amarelo); the soft, almost buttery textured meat from green coconuts (coco de agua); or grated (coco ralado).

Dende Oil (azeite de dende)
A heavy tropical oil extracted from the African palm growing in Northern Brazil. One of the basic ingredients in Bahian or Afro-Brazilian cuisine, it adds a wonderful flavor and bright orange color to foods. There is no equivalent substitution, but it is available in markets specializing in Brazilian imports.

Dried, salted codfish (bacalhau)
Introduced by the Portuguese, it finds its way into appetizers, soups, main courses, and savory puddings. To freshen, one common method is to soak large pieces with the skin and bone removed in cold water for three to four hours, changing the water every hour.

Dried shrimp (camarao seco)
In various sizes, dried shrimp are utilized in many dishes from the northern regions of the country. Usually obtainable in North America at oriental or Latin food stores. Before use they are covered with cold water and soaked overnight (do not keep refreshing with fresh water). The water is discarded before the shrimp are used. The residual salt is usually enough that more is not added to a recipe.

Lemon (limao)
In Brazil the fruit is green, small and quite tart, more like our lime as is specified in most recipes here.

Rice, Brazilian style (arroz brasileiro or arroz simples)
Long grained rice briefly sauteed in garlic and oil before the addition of boiling water. In addition to garlic, some Brazilian cooks add small amounts of onion, diced tomato, or sliced black olive for additional flavor. Properly done, each grain is fluffy and separate from others.

Hint on making Brazilian-style rice: Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan and saute a clove of garlic. When browned add salt. Add the rice and saute 2 to 3 minutes -- until it looks translucent. Do not allow the grains to brown. Add hot water (about 2 to 2-1/2 cups per cup of rice). Cook, partially covered, over medium-high heat until most of the water is absorbed. Uncover, lower the heat and continue cooking until fluffy.

Toasted Manioc Meal (farofa or farinha de mandioca)
Manioc flour lightly sauteed in butter until it resembles buttered bread crumbs. Other ingredients are frequently added (see recipe).

more on Brazilian Cuisine...
introduction  |  ingredients  |  recipes  |  cookbooks

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