West African Shrimp

in Peanut Sauce

September 13: National Peanut Day

We were sponsoring a Nigerian couple, Osas and Chizobam N., through our church’s marriage preparation program when the coronavirus hit. They were planning a grand wedding weekend with two ceremonies—one African and one Western—but things have changed drastically due to COVID-19. Their wedding was postponed until a couple of weeks ago and really scaled back to just their family and entourage (we served as “health and safety” ushers at the “white wedding” ceremony at our church). What a year 2020 has been with the pandemic impacting weddings, birthdays, graduations and other celebrations.

We were only able to meet at our home twice and complete the rest of the social distancing marriage preparation sessions via Zoom. We shared a meal with them then and discussed their wonderful West African wedding cultural customs and their favorite home cooked meals that they miss while living in the USA. We had planned on serving this shrimp dish with peanut sauce at our next session together to feed the homesick couple something familiar to their groundnut soup. But that, too, could not happen because of the coronavirus.

In their honor, we went ahead and cooked this anyway since it is a delicious dish with a flavorful blend of spices, coconut milk and peanut butter. We hope to learn more from our African friends about their culture and cuisine so we can post the recipes here. For now, enjoy cooking West African shrimp with peanut sauce for National Peanut Day.


(Adapted from Dummies)


  • 5 stalks green onions, white parts chopped only
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • ½ piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 ½ pound shrimp, shelled and deveined (if frozen, defrost and rinse)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped (optional garnish)
  • 2-3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped (optional garnish)


Chop up the white parts of the green onions, the round onion, red bell pepper and tomatoes.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sautee the onions and bell pepper until soft, around 7-10 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes. Add the ginger and garlic.

Season the vegetables with red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir in the peanut butter.

Pour in the coconut milk and stir until smooth and creamy. Lower the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp and cook until no longer pink, around 5-7 minutes, depending on the size. Ladle the stew in a bowl and sprinkle chopped cilantro and peanuts. Serve hot with rice, quinoa or couscous.



    The kente cloth pictured above is traditionally from Ghana in West Africa. A Nigerian lady sewed a simple robe from that cloth for Islander when she and her husband were also studying at our alma mater. We all met while participating in cultural shows through the International Student Organization.

  • Islander’s boss at the ESL center is from Nigeria but lived and worked in Brazil before coming to America. He noted that the peanut sauce (coconut milk and spices) is very similar in both cultural cuisines. This recipe reminds us also of the satay sauce in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

  • See this similar recipe for West African groundnut soup: Algonquin Wild Nut Soup.

  • We pray for the best for Osas and Chizobam’s future and all the couples whose wedding plans were affected because of the pandemic. They are learning quickly about the vows of being committed to each other in good times and in bad…in sickness and in health.