Tacu Tacu con Picante de Camarones

This refried rice and beans casserole from Gastón Acurio, better known as Tacu Tacu, is slathered in a spicy shrimp stew.

This refried rice and bean casserole is slathered in a spicy shrimp stew and is better known as Tacu Tacu con Picante de Camarones. Like many other criollo dishes in coastal Peru, tacu tacu was created by West Africans who came to Peru as slaves during the times of the Spanish vice-royalty to work on cotton plantations south of Lima. The addition of seafood is common in cevicherias up and down the coast of Peru, though it can also be served on its own, with a fried egg, or with meat. – Editor’s Note

This recipe is courtesy of Gastón Acurio and reproduced with permission of Phaidon Press. Click here to purchase your own copy of Acurio’s cookbook Peru: The Cookbook from Phaidon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb (450 g) any dried beans apart from fava (broad) beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons aji amarillo, garlic, and onion condiment
  • 1 tablespoon aji amarillo
  • 2 cups (14 oz/400 g) Peruvian-style cooked white rice
  • ½ cup (4 fl oz/120 ml) chicken broth, or stock
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • 4 sprigs huacatay, to garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and grated
  • 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
  • 1 tablespoon pisco
  • ½ cup (4 fl oz/120 ml) evaporated milk
  • 4 slices bread
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 2 cups (18 fl oz/500 ml) shrimp (prawn)
  • 4 whole shrimp (prawns)
  • 44 shrimp (prawns), peeled and deveined, with tails still intact
  • ¼ cup (1 oz/25 g) walnuts, ground in a food processor or grinder

Serves 4

PREPARATION

  1. Drain the beans and put in a pan with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for at least 35 minutes, until tender. Drain. Keep one-sixth of the cooked beans whole. Blend the remaining cooked beans in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. For the shrimp (prawns), heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the chili, garlic, and onion condiment and cook for 2 minutes until the paste has thickened slightly and is fragrant. Stir in the cumin, grated tomato, and aji paste, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes until the paste has thickened slightly and is fragrant. Add the pisco and cook for 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
  3. Put the evaporated milk and bread in a food processor and blend together. Add the blended mixture to the pan along with the oregano sprig and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, gradually pouring in the shrimp (prawn) broth (stock).
  4. Add the ground walnuts and the whole shrimp and mix together well. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, then add the shrimp tails and cook for another 1 minute until the shrimp tails are almost cooked. Adjust the seasoning and set aside. Keep warm.
  5. To prepare the tacu tacus, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over low heat, add the chili, garlic, and onion condiment and chili paste and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes until the paste has thickened slightly and is fragrant.
  6. Add the whole beans, blended beans, and cooked rice to the pan and mix together well. Cook for 2–3 minutes, gradually pouring in the chicken broth (stock). Add the cumin and season with salt, then cook for another 3 minutes until the mixture has thickened and reduced. Remove from the heat.
  7. To form the tacu tacus, spoon the mixture onto a clean work surface and divide it into 4 portions, shaping each into a 6 x 8-inch/15 x 20-cm rectangle.
  8. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the tacu tacus and cook for 4 minutes on each side until browned.
  9. Divide the tacu tacus between plates and spoon over the spicy shrimp mixture over them, ensuring there is 1 whole shrimp on each plate. Garnish with huacatay sprigs. Serve.
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