Typically, acarajé is deep fried in palm oil. We used coconut oil instead, which has a high smoke point and is heat-stable, and pan-fried them instead. Their crispy exterior is perfectly offset by the juicy filling ingredients.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
3 cups water
1 whole shallot
1 clove garlic
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup cooked shrimp*
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 lime, juiced
1 avocado, diced
1 vine-ripened tomato, diced
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Soak the black-eyed peas in water overnight in the refrigerator. Rub the peas between your hands to remove as many of the skins as possible and rinse with fresh water. Place them in a food processor along with the shallot and garlic. Pulse until the mixture forms a batter that you could press into a small cake in your hands. Season with a generous pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl, and set aside until ready to serve.
Heat the coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until it is hot. Take about 1/3 cup of the black-eyed pea mixture in your hands and form into a small round cake. Place gently in the pan. Repeat until the pan is somewhat full, but the cakes are not touching. Cook for about three minutes on each side. Drain on a cooling rack, and then cook the remaining fritters.
Slice each one about halfway through with a serrated knife. Fill with the shrimp mixture and serve immediately.
*If you have the time, marinate unpeeled raw shrimp with salt, cayenne, garlic, smoked paprika, and lemon juice, then grill until cooked through. Peel when cool enough to handle, then dice.