“Salpicão” Brazilian Chicken Salad

“Salpicão” Brazilian Chicken Salad

It’s countdown to summer in Australia! My favourite season is officially starting on the 1st of December. The produce is so amazing this year, I think the highlights are the mini tomatoes and the Tasmanian strawberries, they are sweeter and more flavourful than ever. The warmer weather asks for lots of fruit-based  iced desserts and juices, plus  fresh salads like this one. This recipe is  very special firstly because it’s my mom’s and second because it is our family’s official New Year’s Eve dinner salad. That means when I was a child I had to wait a whole year to eat it, and this anticipation  feeling made it so much more delicious. The salad is perfect for a family get together for being a festival of colours, textures and flavours. It’s crunchy, juicy, chewy and the balance of sweet, salty, sour and smoky flavours is perfect. In Brazil, every family has its own salpicão recipe.  The one that my mom makes has lots of vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, nuts and smoked chicken. I also know some people that use smoked ham or rotisserie chicken instead. Other families don’t  add capsicums (peppers) or pineapple and so forth. Well,  I like the one with the lot! Take a look at the rainbow of ingredients of this salad and see how mouthwatering they are:   To assemble the salad, I like the idea to have layers of colour in a big salad bowl (like the main image above), so you just mix it to serve, or you may want use little jars to bring it for a picnic like the image below. Just one little note, for the smaller jars it is...
Brazilian Barbecue Series – Barbecued Rump Cap Roll – ‘X-Picanha’

Brazilian Barbecue Series – Barbecued Rump Cap Roll – ‘X-Picanha’

I am having lots of fun with this barbecue series, it’s been a joy to rediscover some good old Brazilian recipes. Like in many other countries around the world barbecue is quite an institution in Brazil. For a starter many houses have a barbecue room called ‘churrasqueira’, which can be indoors or outdoors. The most complete of the barbecue rooms have tables and chairs, couches, a full kitchen with fridge, freezer and stove and of course the barbecue equipment. By the way this is how it looks like (image source: mercadolivre.com.br): The place is also equipped with special cutlery, crockery, glasses, wooden boards, metal skewers, a caipirinha cocktail kit, music stereo system and sometimes even a TV to watch that special soccer match! Even some tiny apartments or studios may have a compact barbecue like the one in the picture installed in a small balcony! Everyone I know in Brazil is crazy about a barbecue, not only for the eating side but the social side too. People get together on the weekend to catch up with family and friends in a very relaxed mood to listen or play music and spend almost the whole day snacking on barbecued meats and sides. The barbecue starts early, by 9AM with the preparation of the charcoal by the churrasqueiro (person responsible for the barbecue). Guests start to arrive before midday to have the starters: caipirinhas, sausages with cassava flour and potato salad with rolls. Then meats are served, with beef cuts being the preferred ones. The table is filled with colourful salads, farofas and rolls. The common desserts are barbecued pineapple with ice-cream, fruit salad with cream, passionfruit or chocolate mousses and popsicles. If...
Brazilian Barbecue Series – Speck and Cassava Flour Crumb

Brazilian Barbecue Series – Speck and Cassava Flour Crumb

Farofa is a typical Brazilian crumb made with toasted cassava flour (or chunky corn flour). I have to say here that cassava flour is one of my favourite ingredients ever and I warn you it is quite addictive. Cassava flour is part of Brazilians’ diet since ancient times, it was invented by the indigenous Brazilians as means to preserve their food for long periods. This is an ingredient that matches pretty much with anything. In Brazil the crumb recipes are almost endless and can be either sweet or savoury, some classic farofas are banana, kale, onion, smoked sausage, corn or plain which I posted before to accompany the Brazilian chicken stew. I could give you a replacement to cassava flour, but there is no point, your barbecue will only taste exotic if you try it! Don’t worry, it is so easy to buy them in Australia (and many other countries around the world) either online or from South American grocers. Cassava flour is so versatile that one can easily turn my recipe into a vegetarian dish, just fry some onions, garlic, add your favourite veggies e.g. grated carrots and cabbage, some herbs, spices and it will be equally delicious. For a full Brazilian barbecue experience here are a couple of samba songs by renowned Brazilian singer Marisa Monte. Her voice is so beautiful, she sings like an angel! If you are curious about Brazilian music, check her work on Spotify: Meu Canário – Marisa Monte O Bonde do Dom – Marisa Monte  Ingredients  3 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, finely chopped 2 long red chillies, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 200g naturally smoked speck, rindless, finely...
Crumbed ‘Cuddled’ Prawns with Mango and Coconut Salad

Crumbed ‘Cuddled’ Prawns with Mango and Coconut Salad

Camarão abraçadinho or ‘cuddled prawns’ is a typical dish of Brazilian beach restaurants. The cute name ‘cuddled’ comes from the way the prawns are threaded onto the skewer which gives the impression they are hugging each other. They are often served either as an appetiser, entrée, or as part of a seafood platter that may include prawn and fish croquettes, French fries and steamed or pan-fried fish. In many occasions they are eaten with a cold beer or a caipirinha on the side. In Brazil these skewers are made with very small prawns. In fact, legend says that the cuddled tiny prawns were created to make them give you the sensation you are eating a bigger one. Large prawns used to be quite expensive in Brazil so the cuddled prawns would provide the feeling of eating something better for a fraction of the price! Summer has arrived in Australia and to me it is a very exciting time of the year because it means more beautiful produce becomes available to use in my kitchen. Strawberries are super flavoursome (stay tuned for a strawberry dessert I am making for Christmas) and other little fruits like blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries will soon be plentiful and cheaper. Peaches and nectaries are also a delight that come with summer along with the exquisite Australian mangoes. Native to South and South-East Asia, mangoes are full of vitamins and a great source of calcium. Brazil is also a top producer of the highest quality mangoes, so much so that they taste like a native fruit.  For many years, mangoes have been playing an important part on the diet of Brazilians: they are eaten as a snack, in fruit salads, used to prepare...
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

In my opinion, this is the best street-food that Brazil can offer. I still remember when I went many years ago to sunny Salvador in Bahia state and bought them straight from the very friendly Baianas of Acarajé: the gorgeous cooks who make these fritters in a street cart. Baianas are very easy to spot in the streets of Salvador as they are dressed in long white dresses with a wide skirt made with layers of lace. On the head they wear a white turban and with the clothes lots of colourful bangles and necklaces. This costume dress has African influence and is related to the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé. The dishes of the state of Bahia are the most famous in our country and many traditional foods like bobó, moqueca and vatapá essentially have red palm oil (dendê), chilli, coconut milk, coriander and seafood. These dishes are offered to gods during sacred rituals of Candomblé. When baianas are dressed in colourful clothes they are called Baianas of Tourism. In Rio’s carnival parade every samba school has a special wing dedicated to Baianas and they wear the same dress and turban but made with shiny colourful fabric and lots of sparkly beads. Carmen Miranda, the late Brazilian star who is known for her tutti-frutti hat and flamboyant style got inspiration from baianas to create her style. She became a Hollywood star singing and dancing songs about Brazil in the Hollywood musicals of the 40s. Both the typical baiana’s dress and acarajé are very important to Brazil’s culture and are heritage-listed. Acarajé is often filled with dried or fried prawns, vatapá and chilli sauce. Because they are a bit plump,...
‘X-Frango’ Brazilian Grilled Chicken Sandwich

‘X-Frango’ Brazilian Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Simplicity is the key to this sandwich, a wonderful combination of lettuce, tomato, chicken, mayo and tomato sauce (ketchup) and cheese (in my recipe as optional). ‘X’ in Portuguese is actually the short for the word cheese, stolen from the name in English ‘Cheese Burger’. In Brazil, most sandwiches made with buns start with an ‘X’, so for example if it’s beef hambuguer we call it X-Burger, the beef hamburguer with tomato and lettuce is called ‘X-Salada’, the sandwich made with Picanha (rump cap cut) is called ‘X-Picanha’, the banana sandwich it’s called ‘X-Mico’, mico means little monkey in Portuguese and then we have the ‘X-Frango’ which is made with chicken. I love this sandwich not only because is simple and easy but also it reminds me of my teenage years, the great times I had with my friends growing up in a small country town in the South of Brazil in the 80s. At early nights on every single weekend, my friends and I used to go to a drive-in type of restaurant, similar to those American burger restaurants popular in the 50s, where we parked our car and a waiter would come and talk to us through the car window to get the orders. That place in particular was called ‘Komilão’ that means glutton – a very appropriate name for a place that sold sandwiches, fresh fruit juices, smoothies and soft drinks to hungry teenagers. My favourite was the chicken ‘X-Frango’ always ordered with a chilled Guaraná, the most popular Brazilian soft drink which is made with guaraná berry of the Amazon. This soft drink is, by the way, commonly available from South American grocers outside Brazil. The...