The flavors of Mozambique!
The mild almond mint couscous flavor is a nice match for spicy Piri Pir shrimpi. Shrimp Piri Piri gets is name from the Swahili words pili pili, which translate to pepper pepper. During the age of the colombian exchange, a variety of birds eye chile peppers were introduced by the Portuguese to west Africa. The birds eye peppers that are referred to as piri piri are like large pequin chiles or spicy Thai bird chiles.
Mozambique spice mixes are complex and they are similar to Moroccan spice mixes. The key flavors of Mozambique spices mixes are also similar to Ethiopian spice mixes. When hot spicy bird peppers are added to a west African recipe, the recipe usually takes on the name piri piri. Just like Ethiopian cooking, many spicy Mozambique sauces are made with butter or clarified butter (ghee).
Shrimp piri piri is also a popular entree in Portugal. The Portugese piri piri version is much milder than the Mozambique version and the spice mixture is less complex. Olive oil usually replaces the ghee in Portuguese piri piri versions.
I learned this Mozambique piri piri from a chef who spent a few years in west Africa, while he was a private chef on a yacht. The chef was self made chef who had no formal training and he bastardized every traditional recipe that he made. This chef used corn starch instead of roux in all of his French sauces and soups. The chef had a temper problem and he used to blow a fuse when the soups broke and separated during the dinner hours. Cornstarch thickened soups tend to break apart after being kept warm for a few hours. The chef used to turn beet red with anger anytime his food was criticized, so suggest better cooking methods was out of the question. The chef did admit that his piri piri shrimp recipe was simplified to the point of not being authentic at all. Basically, the chef's piri piri was nothing more than shrimp sauteed with butter garlic lemon and cayenne pepper. The bastardized piri piri sold well anyway, because the restaurant clientele had no clue as to what an authentic piri piri was supposed to be. Like the old French saying goes, "they will never know the difference!"
After doing some research into how a Mozambique style piri piri shrimp is supposed to taste, I came up with a better piri piri recipe than the one I learned at the hot tempered chef's restaurant. This piri piri shrimp recipe is easy to cook, but care must be taken to not cook the garlic till it becomes brown and bitter tasting.
Almond Mint Couscous Recipe:
Small couscous only takes about 4 minutes to cook, so have the ingredients ready ahead of time.
Boil 1 cup of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
Add 1/3 cup of small couscous.
Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
Add 1 tablespoon of almond slivers.
Add 1 pinch of cumin
Add 1 pinch of chopped parsley.
Add 1 pinch of chopped fresh mint.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Cover the pot with a lid.
Allow the couscous to seam and absorb the water, till it is cooked tender.
Keep the couscous warm over very low heat.
Piri Piri Shrimp Recipe:
The piri piri marinade is cooked and served as the sauce!
Make a piri piri marinade by mixing these ingredients together in a mixing bowl:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of clarified butter (ghee)
- 7 cloves of chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of chopped mint leaves
- 2 pinches of chopped Italian parsley
- 1 pinch of mace
- sea salt and black pepper
- 2 pinches of cardamom
- 1 pinch of cumin
- 1 pinch of turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground pequin pepper or 2 chopped Thai red bird peppers
- 2 pinches of coriander
- 1 pinch of allspice
- 2 pinches of crushed dried red pepper (chile caribe)
Stir the marinade and set it aside.
Marinate 6 to 8 peeled and deveined large shrimp in the piri piri marinade for 10 minutes.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Pour the marinade and shrimp into the hot pan.
Sear the shrimp quickly, till they become light crown caramelized highlights appear. The garlic should be a golden brown color by the time the shrimp cook!
Use a ring mold to place the almond mint couscous on the center of a plate.
Arrange the shrimp on the plate around the couscous.
Pour the hot piri piri sauce over the shrimp.
Garnish the couscous with a parsley sprig and mint sprig.
Piri Piri Shrimp is supposed to be spicy, but you can adjust the amount of hot pepper to your own taste. Yummy Mozambique cuisine! ... Shawna