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Spicy Grilled Shrimp Stew

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 September 2015 at 18:09
This is a fantastic seafood soup, adapted from Rick Bayless’ “Mexico One Plate At A Time.”
I know Bayless often comes under fire from folks who think they know Mexican food but don’t. They’re used to the fiery Tex/Mex stuff, and think if it doesn’t blow the roof off your mouth that it isn’t authentic Mexican. Bayless, however, has spent a lifetime exploring the culinary backroads and local traditions of Mexico, and his stuff is the true gelt.

Here is his recipe. My notes and comments follow:
SPICY GRILLED SHRIMP STEW
1 sm onion in ½” dice     
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 ½ lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 28 oz can drained
2 tbls olive oil     
6 cups chicken stock
1-2 sprigs fresh epozote or small handful cilantro
2 lbs med-large shrimp, tails on     
12 small bamboo skewers
Salt     
2 tbls (approx.) ancho powder
3 med sweet potatoes, chayote squash, or Yukon gold potatoes, sliced ½ inch thick

Combine onion, garlic and tomatoes in food processor and process until smooth.

In a medium pot(or, ideally, a Mexican cazuela), heat oil over medium high. Add puree all at once and stir continually until darker in color and cooked down to consistency of tomato paste. Stir in stock and simmer about 30 minutes.

Skewer shrimp (about 4 to each), lay flat, and season both sides with salt and ancho powder.

Brush or spray chayote with oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill, turning occasionally until soft, 10-15 minutes. Divide among 6 soup bowls.

Lightly oil shrimp and grill until just done, 2-3 minutes per side.

Fill bowls with broth. Float two shrimp skewers in each bowl.

I served it differently than Bayless suggests, though. First off, I cut the grilled chayote into spoon-sized pieces. Surely Ron and I can’t be the only folks who do that? Serving the shrimp still on the skewers makes no sense to me, especially as I use two skewers with shrimp to prevent them from turning and twisting. So I removed them and dropped the shrimp right in the soup.
BTW, the idea that you can fit two pounds of shrimp on only 12 small skewers is optimistic at best. Better soak a few more than that.

Lastly, leaving the tails on doesn’t contribute to the look of the dish, and makes eating the shrimp awkward cuz you have to pick them up with your fingers. Next time we’ll remove them.

But that’s picking at nits. This is a delicious dish, with bold flavors but not the heavy heat usually associated with Mexican food. Of course, one could make it hotter if they wished. But using ancho chili powder in the amount he suggests is just right. One change I made was adding a half tablespoon to the broth as it cooked, and the balance sprinkled on the shrimp.

I’m really happy with the chayote. Can’t imagine why I never used it before. It tastes great, and, as an added benefit for me, is very low in carbs. I’ll certainly be using it in various ways in the future.

The soup makes six good-sized servings, as a main dish, or could be easily used as a starter. Hmmmmmm? Is there a Mexican theme dinner in the offing?
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Chef's Apprentice
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drinks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2015 at 15:07
Second paragraph, question, where did the puree come from, what is it and why was it needed?
I suppose I am getting dense in my old age.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2015 at 16:01
   Sounds really good, Brook.  Mexico One Plate at a Time is one of the good cooking programs on television nowadays.  Bayless's cook books are usually pretty good too.  Not only are they filled with some quality recipes, but the written recipes are easy to follow and quick to read.  

   The food in his restaurants is pretty solid too Thumbs Up
Enjoy The Food!
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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2015 at 20:12
Drinks, the puree is made in the first line of the recipe, processing the onions, garlic, and tomatoes until smooth.

Dan: I didn't even know there was a cooking show by that name. I got the recipe from the book of that name, which was published 15 years ago.

BTW, when I made it I used my new Mexican-style cazuela. What a great clay pot it is. Very different from the Spanish type.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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