Shrimp Dopeaja is a Spicy Shrimp dish from Bangladesh made by combining shrimp, onions, tomatoes, and spices to create a phenomenal 30-minute dinner. This dish is spicy and flavorful, and is best served over a bed of white rice.
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Bangladesh is famous for its seafood, particularly its freshwater fish. Spicy Shrimp, or Dopeaja, is one of the most famous dishes in the country, most likely because of its ease, flavor, and ability to showcase the amazing seafood of the country.
I chose to make this recipe with shrimp, but you can choose to make the same thing with any freshwater fish. Catfish is a very common ingredient in Dopeaja in Bangladesh. If you do choose to work with fish instead of shrimp, make sure to de-bone the fish and then cut it into small pieces to simmer in the tomato base.
What Ingredients are In This Spicy Shrimp Recipe?
Ground red pepper
How to Make Spicy Shrimp
Heat the oil in the pan. Once heated, add the spices, the pureed onion, and a tablespoon of water to the pan, and let cook for about 4 minutes, until fragrant.
Add the raw shrimp and the onions to the pan and pour the ½ cup of water over it. Add the sea salt to taste. Cook covered on medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, then uncover the pan and allow about ¾ of the water to evaporate out.
When the water is almost gone, add the tomato, cilantro, and scallions. Cook for about 8-10 more minutes or until the oil begins to separate.
Serve over a bed of white rice and enjoy!
What Does “Dopeaja” Mean?
Dopeaja, also spelled as Dopiaza or Do Pyaza, directly translates to “two onions”. During the cooking of a Dopeaja dish, the cook adds onions at two separate times within the cooking process. In this recipe, one serving of onions is pureed in a blender and the other serving is full slices of onion.
Adjusting the Spice Blend
The spice blend added to this Spicy Shrimp is a doozy, dudes (at least to me…). My mouth was on FIYA.
I also, as we all know, can’t handle spicy. But I want to toughen up, so I forced myself to eat this recipe anyways. I’ll get there one day. It didn’t hurt that the taste of the dish was delicious, even if it was too spicy for my preference!
When I made up the recipe for this dish, I chose to make it about half as spicy as normal to account for my personal taste. This means that there is only about ½ tbsp of cayenne pepper in the entire recipe. If you want to test your taste buds like a true Bangladeshi, double that cayenne! I believe in you!
If you, instead, don’t want your dish to be spicy at all, just don’t add the cayenne! Or choose to add less! I haven’t actually made the recipe without the cayenne, but I’m positive that it would still be delicious and flavorful without it.
The rest of the spice blend is still incredible and unique, so if you want to make your Dopeaja a spicy-less Dopeaja, you do you. I’m all for whatever you choose.
How Do I Prepare Shrimp?
Cleaning fresh shrimp isn’t always the most glamorous job, but sometimes, it needs to be done. If you’re cleaning your own shrimp at home, here are a few tips for you:
- Pinch the skin and peel away from the shrimp, removing any of the shell with the legs attached
- Make sure to remove the black line that runs along the shrimp’s back. This is the digestive track. Run a knife along the back of the shrimp, opening up the skin to expose the digestive track. Then, use your fingers to pull it away from the shrimp
- After peeling and deveining your shrimp, make sure to rinse and dry them
- You can freeze the shrimp shells to use for stock later on
Do I Peel the Shrimp Before or After Cooking?
Depending on the dish that you’re making, you can choose to do either! Some recipes (like this Shrimp Boil) are absolutely delicious when the shrimp is cooked in the shell.
In this case, the shrimp shell preserves the flavor and allows it to stick around longer.
Because we’re sauteeing our Spicy Shrimp (not boiling), I would recommend removing the shells from the shrimp before cooking. This allows the spice blend to truly flavor the part of the shrimp that we’ll be eating!
Some restaurants keep the tails on the shrimp, but this is purely for aesthetic purposes. If you’d like to remove the tails from the shrimp before cooking, this is definitely something that you can do!
Can I Use Pre-Cooked Shrimp?
If that entire section just scared you and you’d prefer to use pre-cooked shrimp, you can do that as well. Your shrimp won’t need to cook nearly as long, just long enough to heat it up.
Instead of the 8-minute cook time mentioned in the recipe, you can shoot for a 3 minute cook time. This will be just enough to allow the shrimp to be coated in your delicious spice blend.
Maintain the secondary 8-10 minute cook time once the tomatoes have been added.
Substitutions for this Spicy Shrimp Recipe
The Dopeaja is best served over a bed of white rice. To keep this dish healthier, you can also serve the Spicy Shrimp by itself. If you’d like to cut the spicy with another element, serve it over vegetables.
If you make this recipe, post a photo of it on Facebook and tag @TheForeignFork or hashtag #TheForeignFork. I love to see what you make!! And don’t forget to leave a comment on this post with the hashtag #TheForeignFork and tag @TheForeignFork!
And if you liked this recipe, don’t forget to check out the other recipes that I’ve picked out just for you:
- Caribbean Seafood Salad
- Tropical Stuffed Avocados
- Spicy Peanut Sauce from Benin
- Dabo Kolo from Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Shrimp Scampi in the Instant Pot
Spicy Shrimp (Dopeaja) from Bangladesh
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ½ inch ginger, grated
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tbsp cayenne
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground red pepper
- 2 tbsp pureed onion
- 1 ½ cup raw shrimp
- ½ onion, sliced
- ½ cup water
- sea salt, to taste
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro , chopped
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- white rice, for serving
- Heat the oil in the pan. Once heated, add the spices, the pureed onion, and a tbsp of water to the pan and let cook for about 4 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the raw shrimp and the onions to the pan and pour the ½ cup of water over it. Add the sea salt to taste. Cook covered on medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, then uncover the pan and allow about ¾ of the water to evaporate out.
- When the water is almost gone, add the tomato, cilantro, and scallions. Cook for about 8-10 more minutes or until the oil begins to separate.
- Serve over a bed of white rice and enjoy!
Arif Anwar says
I’m Bangladeshi. You described the recipe perfectly, well done. One tip, if you want it less/not spicy but with the same flavour just replace the cayenne with equivalent amount of non-smoked (but not sweet) paprika.
The Foreign Fork says
Such a great tip, thank you very much!
Hi! My parents are actually from Bangladesh, and now being an adult, I’ve been trying to recreate dishes from my childhood whenever I miss my mom’s cooking. This recipe was delicious, very similar to the way my mom makes it! I added some extra cayenne and eggplants before adding in the shrimp, and it was spicy and super flavorful! I’m thinking about subbing in some butternut squash when I made it again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
The Foreign Fork says
Hey Nadia, your comment made me so happy to hear! I’m so glad that you liked the recipe and that it reminded you of your mom’s cooking 🙂 Butternut squash sounds like a wonderful addition. Thanks for leaving a comment!
Katie C says
I am thinking about making this (it sounds amazing!), but I have a question…does 1 1/2 cups of shrimp really equal 4 servings? I just made a shrimp recipe tonight, and 1 pound of raw shrimp only made 2 servings.
Laura Cosentino says
Just made this meal and it was so good! Perfect especially if you like food with a hot kick! Easy to make too.
The Foreign Fork says
Hi Laura! I’m so happy that you made the recipe and that you liked it 🙂 Thank you so much for leaving a comment!!