Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tortitas de Camaron en Chile Colorado Con Nopales (Mexican Shrimp Fritter and Cactus Stew)

Again I will say we have lots of Nopales (cactus pads) as you guys already probably know, so here's a dish I'm posting for "YayaOrchids" who kindly asked for this dish :)

In this dish shrimp fritters are made from a fluffy egg batter and ground dried shrimp, and simmered in "Chile Colorado" a flavorful smooth, smokey, rich Mexican red sauce, married with julienned nopales.

The version I present today is a very simple and "typical" version, it's what you would get at any Mexican eatery.

This is my mother's recipe for the typical traditional one, but let me tell you, my mother has a special one she makes RARELY which is more elaborate, complex, and non- traditional when I say rarely I mean like once a year rare, she made it already this year when I wasn't present so I'm out of luck, but when she makes it again I'll catch her in the act and make a post.

Ingredients for fritters:
-1 packet 4 oz. ground dry shrimp powder
-5 egg whites
-5 egg yolks
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-2 tablespoons flour

Ingredients for the sauce:
-8 dry chile california or guajillos (depends on how spicy you want it Californias have no spiciness, guajillos are hot, if you wish a combination of both can be used)
-2 dried chile pasillas
-15 dry "chile japones" or dry "chile de arbol" (optional I added them because I only had Chile California's and no Guajillos so I used them to make the sauce spicy)
-1/2 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon cloves
-1 heaping teaspoonful chicken bouillon

Ingredients to prep cactus:
-8-12 cactus pads cleaned, washed, thorns removed, julienned
-2 cloves garlic
-1/4 onion
-2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)

(1) Prep your sauce, get a medium pot, fill with water and leave on high until it comes to a boil, meanwhile remove stem from all dry chilies, and remove the seeds and veins from the California chilies, pasillas, BUT NOT from the "chile de arbol" or "chile japones" leave those whole but without stem. When water is boiling add all the dry chilies, stir well, let boil about 1 minute then turn off heat and cover. Allow to rest 10- 20 minutes. Set aside.

(2) While the chilies are soaking, I got a hot griddle heated it on high, then put a small layer of aluminum, I lowered to medium high and charred 1/2 an onion, and the 2 garlic cloves for the sauce. When blackened and fragrant on some sides, peel and set aside. (this is optional you can use them raw) (yes i have been multi- tasking I have to for this recipe)

(3) After chilies have soaked, add them to a blender, with the liquid they cooked in, along with the onion, garlic, cumin, black pepper, cloves, and chicken bouillon.

(4) Heat a pot on very high heat if you wish you can coat the bottom of the pot with oil or lard but that is optional I did heat some lard in the pot and when the pot is very very hot, strain the blended sauce in, bring to a rolling boil and thin out with some water or more of the cooking liquid if necessary (the sauce should be as thick or thin as you'd like so it's a matter of preference how much liquid u add). When sauce boils turn off and leave pot alone.

(5) Now prep your cactus, in a pot boil water with 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 onion, and salt, add cactus and boil until tender uncovered about 10 minutes, drain well and set aside, discard onion, and garlic. Set aside.

(6) Now prep your fritters, have a plate with paper towels to drain the fritters. Now beat egg whites to a stick peak, beat egg yolks back in 1 at a time, beat in 2 tablespoons flour a little at a time, along with 1 teaspoon black pepper. Now fold in shrimp powder.
(7) Heat enough oil to deep-fry or pan-fry (at least 1 inch of oil) on medium high, and fry the shrimp fritter batter by large scoop sized I used a large kitchen spoon, brown on one side then flip and brown on the other, set aside on plate to drain. When all are done, set aside.

(8) Now putting this dish together, bring your red sauce to a boil, add cactus that's already prepped, cooked and drained, when it comes back to a boil, slowly add shrimp fritters one at a time, they will float up and most of the cactus will stay at the bottom. Allow to simmer 3-5 minutes. Taste red sauce for salt add more if needed ( I doubt it) then turn off and cover.

(9) Serve with fresh tortillas alone, or with beans. If you wish a Mexican red rice. It's up to you.

-The shrimp powder is very salty, so salt the sauce towards the end after the shrimps fritters simmer in the sauce a bit, if it needs more than add, but don't add too much as they sit their flavor and salt will infuse into the sauce more.

-I made the red sauce without tomatoes this time, because they aren't necessary and I didn't have any, but if you wish 2 ripe Roma tomatoes can be simmered together with the chilies.