The journal of an expat retiree to Medio de Nada, Michoacán, México, with an emphasis on eclectic cuisine.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Camarones a la Mandarina o Naranja
Our comida yesterday was a big deal. The day before I'd bought 500 grams of headless shirmp in the shell. I have had this idea of Camarones a la Mandarina for sometime.
I got out an old Chinese cookbook by Virginia Lee and Craig Claiborne. It's notable for its excess in seasoning. I found a recipe for Szechwan Shrimp, which was my anchor.
The night before I put some dried tangerine peels to soak in some Cien Años Tequila (lacking Absolut Mandarin).
Today, I slowly dissolved a big cone of piloncillo (crude brown sugar) in simmering water, and reduced it to a molasses like syrup.
Meanwhile, I shelled and deveined the shrimp, trying to keep the tails. That was only partially successful. It was also tedious.
I put the shrimp in a small bowl and sprinkled on some tangerine peel-Tequila infusion. Some Controy Orange Liqueur figured somewhere in here also.
Separately, I peeled my last remaining ginger root, shredded it as well as some garlic and 3 or 4 very picante yellow Chiles Piquines (as defined in Michoacán terms).
Next, I peeled and julienned one stubby carrot and about 1/3 of a large, sweet red pepper. Celery, cut small. Then one white onion, cut vertically into segments. (Supposed to be green onions—scallions— with the tops, but I didn't have any.)
A sauce was mixed in a small bowl of light and dark soy sauces, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, plus some Tuong Cu Da, to substitute for the Fermented Rice I didn't have. I figured some Sichaun (modern spelling) Pepper would go well, so I ground up a little and sifted it through a tea strainer, to avoid those hard little pieces. There was sesame oil in the sauce and on the shrimp with the Mandarin infusion. Black pepper also.
I also used some of the macerated mandarin peel and shredded it finely to add to the ginger, garlic and chiles.
First I stir fried the carrots, celery, onions, and removed them from the pan.
Then I stir fried the shrimp, adding the chiles, ginger, etc. There was an eye and sinus-searing blast of strong chile fumes.
As the shrimp became opaque, I tossed in the soy sauce mixture. Next, a small amount of that reduced piloncillo syrup. Then the cornstarch-water suspension, which I failed to mention earlier. It took a moment to thicken.
I tasted it: too sweet. More vinegar to perfect it.
I garnished it with a small thicket of very nice cilantro leaves, and we ate it with our Basmati Rice, green beans, etc; and a plate of sliced cucumbers, radishes, a tomato and the rest of the cilantro.
With this meal, I paired a lovely, red Agua de Jamaica, Mexico, 2009; which exhibited subtle floral notes that were underscored by its native acidity. I had to drink a lot of it, but really, the picante aspect of the main dish was less assertive than expected.