Shrimp a la VeracruzAnna
May 05, 2006
What better way to commemorate the Battle of Puebla on this Fifth of May than by cooking a piping hot plate of Shrimp Veracruz? The state of Veracruz, located on the Caribbean side of the boot of Mexico was the site of the famous invasion of French troops into Mexico who made their way to the state and city of Puebla in 1862 (located next to the state of Veracruz) and duked it out with General Ignacio Zaragoza who, outnumbered by nearly 3000 troops, won a victory over the French forces sent by Napolean III to seize all of Mexico in the name of France. The town of Puebla was the chosen battlefield and the French were quickly deposed (although this victory was short lived when the French took the capital and installed Maximillian of Austria as "emperor" of Mexico, thus, the Austrians have lots of stolen booty like Moctezuma's headdress in their museums); Benito Juarez christened the day as a national holiday.
Well, this Puebla/Veracruz connection made me think that Shrimp Veracruz was the perfect dish for tonight's supper. This dish consists of a rich salsa with some very odd ingredients: green olives, capers, bay leaves and oregano. I guarantee, however, that this dish will do you right for tonight. There are several versions of this dish, so I have sort of experimented for the easiest way to prepare it and still preserve the flavor.
You will need:
- 1 pound of deveined medium or large shrimp with the tails on and the rest of the shell removed;
- 1/2 cup of roughly chopped green olives (get these from your grocer's deli or if in a jar, get the Santa Cruz brand large green olives);
- 3 tbsp of capers;
- 2 bay leaves;
- 1/2 tsp oregano, corriander, and cumin;
- 1/2 small minced white onion;
- 4 tbsp of butter (may substitute olive oil);
- 1 lime halved;
- 5 plum tomatoes;
- 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers (depending on how hot you want it);
- 1/2 c white wine;
- 3 cloves minced garlic;
- handful of fresh choped cilantro (optional); and
- salt to taste.
Serve this dish over a bed of saffron (or plaint) basmati rice.
Step One: Start your rice! I made a simple saffron basmati rice in my rice cooker for this dish and it tastes wonderful in combination with the rest of the food. I like the "O" Organics brand of Basmati rice from Safeway, you can also find it at Wild Oats and Whole Foods.
Step Two: In a small pot of boiling water, add your tomatoes and chile peppers; cook on high until the skins start to fall off (about 7 minutes). Remove from the heat; drain. Place the tomatoes and the jalapenos in a blender and puree.
Step Three: In a saute pan, cook the garlic & onion in the butter until translucent. I know 4 tbsp of butter is a lot, but trust me, it's worth the calories. If you are still freaking out, substitute with olive oil. Once the onions are done, cool off by adding the white wine and reduce (takes about 4-6 minutes). If you, like my mother, absolutely love onions, try cutting the onions into large slices to give the dish a different texture.
Step Four: Add the tomato/jalapeno puree, the chopped tomatoes, capers, olives, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and corriander into the pan; squeeze in the 2 lime halves. Simmer this over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes (should be the thickness of a runny gravy).
Step Five: Add the shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes until just cooked. Remove from the heat and serve the shrimp and sauce over a bed of saffron rice. Garnish with cilantro or chopped italian parsley and lime wedges. I enjoy eating this with a side of warmed corn tortillas over the comal (stop using the microwave to heat up your torts!). This dish pairs well with white wine or a good fume blanc. I also think Bohemia or Pacifico is a good beer for this dish. Oh so yummy.
I know this dish has a ton of ingredients, but like so many real Mexican dishes, it takes time to cook, and has the sabor of a complex mole (that's mol-eh, you know, the thick rich sauce sometimes made with chocolate and a ton of ingredients I can't pronounce) that will earn you much praise. So when eating this dish, thank your lucky stars that the world colided in Puebla and Veracruz, producing such a unique and fragrant dish like Camaron a la Veracruzana.