This is a version of the cuscuz from São Paulo made with marinated fresh shrimp and canned sardines, kindly e-mailed to us by Laura, co-owner of brol.com, our sponsoring travel agency. Don't forget to use them for all your Brazil travel needs!
juice of two lemons
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
1 lb medium shrimp, fresh
2 1/2 cups of cornmeal
2 tbsp manioc meal
1 cup boiling water with 1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil or melted butter
1 4-ounce can sardines in oil (without bones or scales)
3 tomatoes (1 sliced, 2 seeded and chopped)
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 egg, hard-boiled and sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup hearts of palm, sliced into thin rounds (reserve the liquid)
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup chopped scallions
Make a marinade with the lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Peel, devein and wash shrimp. Marinate for one hour. Combine the cornmeal and manioc meal and toast in a preheated oven (300° F) for five minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Add salted, boiling water and mix well. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil. Set aside.
Lightly grease a bowl. To garnish the surface of the cuscuz, place three sardines on the bottom of the bowl. Put tomato slices, egg slices, olives and heart of palm slices on the bottom and up the sides of the bowl, reserving room for a few cooked shrimp.
In a large frying pan, saute the onion and remaining garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter. Add scallions and the remaining tomatoes. Add shrimp, the marinade and bay leaf. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Remove four or five shrimp, cut in half lengthwise and add to garnish in the bowl. Stir in the peas and the remaining hearts of palm, olives and sardines. Check for salt and pepper. Add the cornmeal/manioc meal mixture and stir over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. The cuscuz should have a paste-like consistency. If too dry, add some liquid from the hearts of palm or use tomato sauce.
Pour some of the mixture into the bowl and press firmly to hold the garnishes in place. Fill the bowl with the rest of the mixture, again pressing firmly. Let sit a few minutes and unmold by inverting over a plate. Use a greased knife to cut into slices. Serve immediately.