A dish from Tahiti – Shrimp in Coconut Vanilla Sauce

Chevrettes à la Vanille et Coco – Shrimp in Coconut Vanilla Sauce

Tahiti came along at a perfect time – it was a beach week for me. I sat under an umbrella near the ocean and read, and when it came time to cook, I had access to the freshest seafood. The shrimp for this dish came right off of the boat – you cannot beat that. Fun and easy to make, this was a very subtle dish and enjoyed by all.

A side note: half of the dinner crowd that night were landlubbers and didn’t want shrimp. My husband grilled up some chicken, and I put aside some of the sauce before I tossed in the shrimp. Final verdict: the poultry eaters were pleased as well. This sauce is really versatile. With the rice alone, it was the start of a potentially fantastic rice pudding …some experimenting perhaps? I promise updates if that does indeed happen…

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.whats4eats.com/fish/chevrettes-vanille-coco-recipe


  • Oil — 2 to 3 tablespoons (I used coconut oil – use what you prefer)
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined — 2 pounds
  • Vanilla bean — 1 (this of course called for Tahitian vanilla, but I used a bean from Madagascar – not what I wanted, but what I had)
  • Rum — 1/2 cup (I used light rum)
  • Coconut milk — 1 cup
  • Heavy cream — 1 cup
  • Salt and pepper — to season


  1. Heat the oil in a saute pan or skillet over medium-high flame. Add the shrimp and saute until cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
  2. Slit the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Add the rum, vanilla bean pod and seeds to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook until the rum is largely evaporated.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer slowly until the sauce is thickened and its volume is reduced by about half.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean pod and return the shrimp to the pan. Simmer to heat through and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, with plenty of rice.
Vanilla Coconut Shrimp
(image by Todd Farmer)

Frangipani, a novel about everyday life in Tahiti

My reading habits tend towards the very serious non-fiction side…always having to learn new stuff…
But you can often get just as much knowledge through a well-told tale and that’s what I found in my choice for Tahiti.

(image by p.lenedic via Flickr)

A novel published in 2004, Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite, is a lovely and lively read. I did know that at the very least I wanted to learn something solid about life in Tahiti – so often with places that are so beautiful (and not English-speaking), you can’t find much outside of travel guides and/or writing that tips towards the “exotic”. The latter…not too interested in that.

Family, friends, school, work, annoying neighbors, money problems, the weather, what’s for dinner; when you come down to it, that’s the raw material of existence no matter where you hang your hat. And this book does a great job of letting you in on that side of life in Tahiti. The characters are all well-developed and likable; I totally want to get invited to one of the family get-togethers! I got a great sense of place from this story, and enjoyed it very much. I also read it on the beach, which never hurts…

(image by By Renesis (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons)

Country #9 – Tahiti!

Country #9 will be my first stop in Oceania: Tahiti! I am so excited! Beyond being aware that it’s in the middle of the Pacific, that France has something to do with it, and that I would like to go there, I don’t know much.

And it timed out perfectly; right before a week-long stay at the beach. A beach nowhere near the Pacific Ocean, but I’ll take it anyway.