My Recipe Box

Brazilian Chicken & Shrimp Stew (Xim-Xim)


Serves four.

This is my take on xim-xim, a traditional stew from Brazil by way of West Africa. Xim-xim relies on a specific set of ingredients: dendê oil (the Brazilian name for palm oil), coconut milk, and nuts. You can substitute olive oil for the dendê oil. For more information on these authentic Brazilian ingredients, check out our ingredient profiles.

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 large ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro stems and leaves plus 1/2 cup whole leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 fresh Thai bird chiles, coarsely chopped, or jarred malagueta peppers, drained
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (1-1/2 lb.)
  • 1 lb. jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 per lb.), shelled and deveined
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1/3 cup lightly salted cashews, toasted
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil or well-shaken dendê and soy oil blend
  • 3/4 cup well-stirred canned coconut milk
  • Hot cooked white rice for serving

Peel and chop the garlic. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and with the side of a heavy chef’s knife, mash to a paste. Transfer to a food processor and add the onion, tomatoes, chopped cilantro stems and leaves, lime juice, chiles, ginger, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped and almost smooth. Put the chicken and shrimp in a large bowl, add the onion mixture, and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pulse 2 Tbs. of the cashews in a spice grinder just until finely ground; do not let them form a paste.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, brushing excess marinade back into the bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with 1/4 tsp. salt. Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive or dendê oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until very lightly browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the thighs to a plate as they are browned.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade and set them aside. Put the marinade in the Dutch oven, add the coconut milk and ground cashews, and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, for 3 minutes to cook off the raw onion flavor.

Return the chicken to the Dutch oven, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally and turning the chicken halfway through cooking, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes total.

Increase the heat to medium, stir in the shrimp, and cook, stirring constantly, just until the shrimp are bright pink and nearly opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes; they will continue to cook after they’re removed from the heat. Off the heat, stir in half the remaining cashews and half the whole cilantro leaves. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer the chicken to a large deep platter and pour the shrimp and sauce over it. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. dendê or olive oil, top with the remaining cashews and cilantro leaves, and serve hot with the white rice.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 490, Fat (kcal): 33, Fat Calories (g): 300, Saturated Fat (g): 13, Protein (g): 36, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14, Carbohydrates (mg): 13, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 4, Sodium (g): 650, Cholesterol (g): 215, Fiber (g): 3,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Whether or not this is authentic, it was excellent.

Mine did not look like the picture; the sauce was more green in color (could have been my tomatoes), however it was quite delicious and my family rated it a definite keeper.

This recipe is not correct, this is not xim-xim because one of the main ingredients is smoked shrimp, without it we have a chicken and shrimp stew, not xim-xim. I am from Bahia, Brazil.

Absolutely delicious! When I was in a rush, I would brown the chicken and shrimp without marinating them first and it turned out to be also very good. In the summer, I made the marinade and I brush it on my grilled shrimp, yummmm!

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