Paulista Shrimp Cake
2 pounds medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small white onion
1 garlic clove
1 (14-ounce) can palm hearts
1 red bell pepper
1 green onion
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
½ teaspoon cornstarch
4 teaspoons tapioca starch
½ cup olive oil, divided
1¼ cups canned tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 cup green peas
½ cup finely chopped black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
A featured dish in the state of São Paulo in Brazil, this is a favorite of Ambassador Rubens Barbosa, whose mother cooked it frequently when he was growing up.
Rinse the shrimp under warm running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the drained shrimp in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Peel and finely chop the onion. Smash, peel, and mince the garlic. Rinse the canned palm hearts and drain in a colander. Cut the red bell pepper in half, remove the seeds, and finely chop. Rinse the green onion and dice. Peel and mash the hard-boiled eggs.
Dissolve the salt in the water. Add the cornstarch and the tapioca starch to the water, stirring to dissolve. Let stand for 1 hour.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Add the shrimp and the chopped pepper. Stir in the canned tomatoes, and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the green peas, palm hearts, green onion, olives, and the parsley. Remove the frying pan from the heat. Give the starch and water mixture a quick re-stir and mix it in thoroughly.
Place the shrimp mixture in a large bowl. Stir in the hard-boiled egg pieces. Take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture, and flatten between the palms of your hands to form a thin cake. Continue with the remainder of the shrimp mixture.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the shrimp cakes over medium heat, until they are golden brown (about 6 minutes). Turn the cakes over once during cooking.