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Monkey Weddings & Summer Sapphires

South Africa to Nova Scotia: Stories, Recipes & Memories

Prawns Nacional

Shrimp cooked in a creamy, spicy, beer sauce was originally a Portuguese-Mozambican recipe made with a brand of beer called Nacional, hence its name.

Johannesburg, South Africa, is where many of these families settled after the civil war in Mozambique and brought their traditions, food and recipes with them.

Two of my closest art school friends, Deon and Julio, both had Mozambique-Portuguese heritage and both of them were excellent cooks. Julio in particular, introduced me to the amazing world of Portuguese-Mozambican cooking. and he would host lavish dinner parties, spending the entire day decorating the table, arranging flowers, and preparing the perfect playlist that would accompany dinner – invariably a collection of Edith Piaff and opera.

On special occasions, he would make his potent Portuguese anise liqueur – a small branch of anise placed inside the bottle would form crystals, making it look like an elaborate piece of art.

This prawns Nacional recipe would make a regular appearance on the menu. Traditionally eaten with fries that soak up the rich creamy sauce, but rice is also a good alternative.

Yield: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 hot chilies, finely chopped (more if you like it hot)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 lb. shrimp, the larger the better, shelled and deveined.

½ teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 cups beer

1 bay leaf

Juice of a lemon

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chili pepper and the garlic and cook for a minute.

2. Add the shrimp and paprika and fry for about 5 minutes or until the shells of the shrimp turn a reddish color and the flesh is white.

3. Pour in the beer, add the bay leaf and simmer to reduce the liquid by half for about 10 minutes.

4. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice, butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and serve.

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