Mexico: A Lesson in Chiles

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After we were warmed with micheladas and margaritas, we were ready to dine! Not content with just a few tacos and burritos, Chef Nalin took the opportunity to explore and educate us with chiles.

Amuse Bouche – ‘Pico de Gallo’

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Ingredients & Directions

Cherry tomatoes (10-12)

Puree onion (with lime)

Puree cilantro (with lime) and a small amount of apple

Slice tomatoes in half, core out

Toss tomatoes with salt, drain. Marinate with lime for 2-3 hours.

Add onion, and cilantro to center of tomato. Top with a thin slice of fresh serrano. 

Roasted Tomatillo Serrano Salsa (Salsa Verda Cruda)

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Ingredients

1 pound tomatillos (10-12 tomatillos)

Fresh serrano chilis, about 5 (1 oz)

2 large garlic cloves

1 small white onion

¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro

salt, sugar

 Directions

  1. Roast tomatillos below broiler (4 inches) until they blister (5 minutes). Cool.
  2. Roast chilis and garlic on an ungreased skillet. Cool, and stem chilis.
  3. Scrape tomatillos, chilis, garlic into blender. Pulse until chunky. Add water to give it a good consistency. Rinse diced onion, and stir into salsa along with cilantro. Taste and season with salt and sugar. 

Tomato Chipotle Sauce (Salsa de Chile Chipotle y Jitomate)

Ingredients

3-4 dried chiles chipotles colorados (moritas)

4 garlic cloves

1 ½ pounds (3 medium-large, or 9-12 plum) ripe tomatoes

1 tablespoon lard, or olive oil

Directions

  1. Stem chilies, remove seeds, toast on skillet for a few seconds on each side.
  2. Rehydrate in hot water for 30 minutes, discard water.
  3. Roast unpeeled garlic. Roast tomatoes under a broiler, 5 minutes a side. Remove skins.
  4. Add ingredients to blender, puree.
  5. Heat saucepan enough to make drop of puree sizzle, then add all at once. Stir for 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Guajillo-Sauced Shrimp/Scallops with Nopales (Camarones al Guajillo con Nopales)
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Ingredients

16 medium (1 pound) fresh cactus paddles

2 pounds medium-large shrimp

For 2 cups Simmered Guajillo Sauce (Salsa de Chile Guajillo)

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

16 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

pinch cumin

3 ½ cups fish or chicken broth

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

about ¾ teaspoon sugar

2 medium-large tomatoes (or 6-8 ripe plum)

Directions

Trim the nopales, cut into ½ inch squares

Peel and devein the shrimp

Sauce (make earlier in week)

  1. Roast unpeeled garlic
  2. Rehydrate chiles in hot water for 30 minutes, discard water
  3. Combine oregano, pepper, cumin in food processor or blender, along with chilis and garlic and 1 cup of the broth. Blend to smooth puree. Strain through medium mesh.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in saucepan, stir constantly until reduced to paste (5-7 minutes). Stir in remaining 2 ½ cups of broth, simmer for 45 minutes. Add broth to bring to medium consistency. Add 1 teaspoon salt as needed for taste.

Tomatoes

Roast tomatoes under broiler, about 6 minutes, collect include juices, then puree.

Nopales

  1. Cut remaining chilis into very thin strips.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat, add the cactus and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the chili strips and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in lime juice, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and cook until liquid evaporated. Spread out on plate and keep warm.

Finishing Dish

Wipe skillet clean, use remaining 2 tablespoons oil and put over medium-high heat. Lay shrimp in single layer, sprinkle with salt, cook for 2 minutes, flip, then add the chile sauce and tomatoes. Cook another 2-3 minutes until barely done. Place into plates with cactus on side.

Jicama, Radish and Cucumber

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This plate, served as a palate cleanser before the next course, conjures up the colors of the Mexican flag.  ¡Viva Mexico!

Ingredients

Large jicama

2 cucumbers

radishes

Directions

  1. Julienne ingredients, and then marinate separately in lime.
  2. Serve together.

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Thanks for visiting! Believe it or not, this is just the beginning! Please come back next week for the main courses.  For an overview of our Mexican feast, here’s the first post in this series: spiceboxsupperclub.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/spicebox-supperclub-mexico/

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