Shrimp Mexicana or Camarones a la Mexicana is the recipe that I made to go with the Plantains I featured last week.
I like to make theme dinners every now and then and this recipe seemed easy and adaptable.
It’s adaptable in that you can easily expand it for any number of servings, adapt the side dishes (yellow saffron rice would be especially good), adapt the veggies to your liking, and most importantly, adapt the spiciness so that everyone can enjoy it.
This is extremely fresh tasting – a sort of pico de gallo meets shrimp. Perfect for summer when fresh veggies are plentiful and ripe.
Here’s what you need:
Shrimp, Tomatoes, Onion, Jalapeno Pepper, Lime, Garlic, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Smoked Paprika, Other Dried Peppery Spice (Cayenne, Chipotle, or Chili Powder), Salt & Pepper.
Buy the nice large or extra large shrimp for this dish. I buy my shrimp with the peels on and use this handy dandy tool for quick shelling. (And I save the shells in the freezer for making shrimp stock for the world’s best Gumbo!)
Be sure that when you’re removing the shells and little swimmy feet of the shrimp, you also remove the “vein” or dark line running down the back of the shrimp. The handy dandy shrimp tool does that for you for the most part but you can also just use a small, sharp knife.
Finely chop 1/2 medium onion (about 3/4 cup), 1 jalapeno pepper (I removed the seeds so it is less spicy), and 4 cloves of garlic.
Chop up 2 tomatoes in to a nice medium dice. Chunky. Don’t get them too small or they will disintegrate when they cook.
We are big shrimp eaters and this is the main event at dinner so I have 1 pound of shrimp for 2 people.
Place your cleaned, shelled, and de-veined shrimp in a medium bowl and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon of some other peppery powder like cayenne, chipotle, or chili powder. Season to taste with a little salt & pepper.
I used a green chili powder that was very mild. My friend Cody who happened to be making this dish the same weekend (we do that sometimes), used cayenne and reported it to be quite the spicy experience. Chipotle or chili powder would give a smokier flavor.
Remember that you can always add more spice as this cooks if it is too mild but you can’t take the spice out once you’ve already added it.
Toss the shrimp with the spices to give them a nice coating.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. I have non-stick to make things clean up easier but any skillet will do the job.
Add the shrimp and cook them QUICKLY until pink and slightly curled.
They will only need 1-2 minutes on each side. Notice the edges of the shrimp have already started to curl? Turn those babies over and quickly cook the other side.
When the shrimp are done, add 1½ Tablespoons of red wine vinegar to the pan and remove it from the heat. The vinegar will make a quick sauce for the shrimp if you give it a quick swirl in the bottom of the pan.
Remove the shrimp to a bowl and set aside for a few minutes while you make the sauce.
Add 1 more Tablespoon of olive oil to your pan and return it to medium heat.
Add the onions, jalapeno pepper, and garlic and cook quickly for 2-3 minutes. Take care that the garlic does not rest on the bottom of the pan and burn.
Add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt & pepper, and cook another 5 minutes until the tomatoes just start to break down and get saucy.
Finely chop 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro (or parsley if you are a cilantro hater) and get a nice lime ready for juicing.
Return the shrimp and any juices to the pan and toss with the tomatoes. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime. Taste and adjust the spiciness, salt & pepper as needed.
Turn off the heat and add the cilantro at the very end.
Shrimp Mexicana was an easy, quick, light summer meal. I think this would also make a GREAT filling for shrimp tacos or burritos.
Spice it up!
Here’s the recipe – adapted from The Latin Kitchen
PS. Sorry I’ve been gone for most of the week. I’ve been playing opera (which is awesome), but then I did this! I’m totally fine but typing with a bum thumb and a wrist brace was a no go. Good thing is nothing is broken but my ego.
Really…who falls down when there is no ice and snow, in July, totally sober, AND wearing sensible shoes? Geez.
Hand of the clumsy.