The best vanilla in the world comes from Tahiti, and Tahitian chefs are known for their fabulous creamy coconut and vanilla sauces. This rich recipe uses shrimp, but you could also use fish or chicken.
Like their Polynesian counterparts elsewhere, Tahitians still cook meals underground in an earth oven, known here as an himaa. Pork, chicken, fish, shellfish, leafy green vegetables such as taro leaves, and root crops such as taro and yams are wrapped in leaves, placed on a bed of heated stones, covered with more leaves and earth, and left to steam for several hours. The results are quite tasty, since the steam spreads the aroma of one ingredient to the others, and liberal use of coconut cream adds a sweet richness.
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