Sunday, March 16, 2008

I've been looking for a recipe for shrimp molcajete (public photo above from In surfing for information this morning, it appears that, like SJG and me, many vacationers have been introduced to this lovely dish while in western coastal Mexico or in parts of the American Southwest. Recipes abound for making guacamole or salsa in a molcajete (mortar and pestle), but I found only one recipe--on the BBC website--for making the stewlike dish we had in Mazatlan. My adapted version goes something like this (and doesn't quite match the looks of the photo above, by the way):
2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle chili
1 small onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 small can of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste

Meat/Shrimp Base
1-2 chicken breasts, 3/4-1 lb sirloin steak, or 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 bunches green onions
several whole jalapenos (on the large side), seeded to reduce the heat

8-12 warm flour tortillas
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
1-2 avocados, sliced
1-2 limes, sliced
1-2 cans refried beans, warmed up

1. FOR THE SALSA: mash the garlic, chili, onion and coriander in a large seasoned molcajete.
2. Add the tomatoes and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Place the molcajete over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve. (In Mexico, each person gets an individual molcajete, so this step may take up the entire stovetop.)
Caution: the molcajete gets very hot. Use hotpads or kitchen mits to handle.

4. FOR THE BASE: Season the meat or shrimp to taste. Saute in olive oil in a large skillet on the stovetop or grill under the broiler or on an outdoor grill until done. Slice the meat into strips. Shrimp can be served as is.

5. Briefly grill the green onions and the jalapenos on the broiler setting of the oven or on the outdoor grill until nicely browned.

6. TO SERVE: place the meat or shrimp (or combination of the two) in the molcajete(s) with the warm salsa. Drape the grilled onions over the sides (with the onion head in the salsa and the green stems lying over the edge) and garnish with grilled jalapenos, chopped coriander, and sliced avocado. Serve with warmed tortillas and refried beans on the side. As in the photo above, beer is a nice accompanying beverage for this dish. Fresh lime can be squeezed into the beer or over the meat just before eating.

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