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.


Leslie Harris (de Limon) said...

I make a mean tequila-lime shrimp with chile de arbol. I'm definitely going to try this recipe. My hubby loves anything with oranges, and the tequila is just an added bonus.

Don Cuevas said...

Thanks for your comment, Leslie. With your apellido, this ought to be a natural.

Although I've not provided an actual recipe, I think that you'll be able to work out a suitable version to your taste.

I had in mind a sort of Hot-Sweet-sour shrimp, and although I made it complex, it was a hit.

Can I have your Tequila-Lime Shrimp recipe, or at least, its outline?

Muchas gracias.
Don Cuevas