Thursday, May 07, 2009

Shrimp a la Mexicana (Camarones a la Plancha)

A little late for Cinco de Mayo, eh?

No matter, we didn't make this specifically for any occasion. We love Mexican food any day of the year. =)

What's not to love? There's shrimp, tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, lime, avocado and cilantro. But, Rick, oh, Rick! Why must you make this simple dish seem so complicated?

(That would be Rick Bayless, of course.)

First of all, why the different names, Rick? First, we "Shrimp a la Mexicana". We also have "Shrimp with Tomatoes, Serranos and Cilantro." That's two names right there. Then, the Spanish name is completely different! "Camarones a la Plancha" to denote the griddle used.

Oh, Rick, you wordy you!

Essential Chopped Tomato-Serrano Salsa

The "a la Mexicana" portion referred to the tomato salsa. Or, "Essential Chopped Tomato-Serrano Salsa", as it's called in the book.

The salsa was made with tomatoes, serrano chiles, garlic and onion. Ignore that lime there. That doesn't come into play until later.

To the plancha!

Oops, did I really have to peel the shrimp? I took that as optional. ;) They were marinated with lime juice, salt and pepper for a little bit before heading for the plancha.

Unusually, I actually followed the convoluted method (it seemed to us) to the letter. I think I wanted to see if there really was a method to the madness. Here goes. The shrimp are laid on the oiled griddle.

After letting the shrimp cook on one side, we flipped them over and added the tomato-serrano salsa evenly on top of them. We also squeezed lime juice over everything.

Then, we had to do search-and-rescue, picking out the cooked shrimp underneath the pile of salsa.

It was quite nerve-wracking trying to retrieve the shrimp under the salsa. Having gotten not-so-big shrimps, I was afraid they were going to overcook and be rubbery. Thank heavens we didn't peel the shrimp. (Silver linings again.)

This operation required a barely-contained panicky two-tonged attack!

The avocadoes were then added to the still-cooking salsa and everything was mixed about. The cooked salsa-with-avocado mixture is then added to the waiting shrimp.

Is it just me, or couldn't this have been done in a simpler manner?

This was quite the hit with the family, but I still can't figure out why the recipe was the way it was. Perhaps we misread something?

I've had this Rick Bayless book for quite some time, but I've never cooked anything from it before this dish. For some reason, I find his recipes hard to read and hard to follow -- and I'm one who loves his long-windedness!

I love the smoky flavour of the dish, the taste of la plancha. The shrimp were succulent and what's not to like about the Mexican salsa? Tomatoes, onions, garlic: these are the flavours that we love and crave.

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Shrimp a la Mexicana (with Tomatoes, Serranos and Cilantro)
(Camarones a la Plancha)
Recipe by Rick Bayless, in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant flavors of a World-Class Cuisine

Serves 4

Method/Procedure has been paraphrased.

Essential Chopped Tomato-Serrano Salsa
(Makes 2 cups)

12 ounces (2 medium-small round or 405 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored and finely diced
Fresh serrano chiles, to taste (3 to 5), stemmed and finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled amd very finely chopped
1 small white onions, finely diced
salt, about 1 1/4 teaspoons

1 pound (about 24) medium-large shrimp
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 small avocados (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Making Essential Chopped Tomato-Serrano Salsa
Mix together the tomatoes, chiles and garlic. Scoop the onions into a strainer, rinse under cold water, shake dry and add to the mixture, along with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt.

The Shrimp
Peel, leaving tail intact. Devein.
Place in a medium-sized bowl. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Stir well and let marinate about 30 minutes (no longer than 1 hour). Pat shrimp completely dry.

Cut avocados in half, remove flesh from skin and dice into 3/8-inch pieces.

Finishing the dish
Arrange all ingredients near the stove. Lightly coat 2 large (10- to 12-inch) skillets or a large heavy griddle with olive oil. Set over medium-high heat. When very hot, lay shrimp in a single uncrowded layer. When half done, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, flip them over and divide salsa and remaining tablespoon of lime juice over all.

When the shrimp are done, use a pair of tongs to remove them to warm plates, leaving behind as much salsa as possible. If using avocados, sprinkle them over the salsa and cook, scooping and stirring, until heated through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scoop up the salsa and sprinkle over the shrimp. Strew generously with cilantro and serve.

We're submitting this to the Chef Spotlight Dinners event at Joelen's Culinary Adventures. Check out her blog for this and other events!

[eatingclub] vancouver Mexican
Tacos... then
Tacos... now
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Semi-Lime-cooked, Semi-Yucatecan Shrimp with Garlic Chips
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese with Pipían Verde
Quickie Turkey Tortilla Soup
Tacos of Carnitas with Pineapple, with Roasted Salsa and Sweet Potato
Shrimp a la Mexicana (Camarones a la Plancha)
Enchiladas Verdes
Cilantro Horchata
Strawberry Cilantro Salsa, on Grilled Flank Steak
Mexican Ancho Guajillo Chicken
Chipotle Ground Turkey on Flour Tortilla
Tacos... again (July 2009)
Tacos al Pastor with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Tacos with Beer-braised Carnitas Filling
Shredded Beef and Tripe Tacos
Duck Enchiladas with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Blueberry Tres Leches Cake
Crab Tostada
Homemade Mexican Chorizo Sausage
Torta (Mexican Sandwich)


  1. Search and rescue... Ha, ha, ha that was fun! I'm loving this dish: the shrimps, the salsa and the plancha! Yeah, maybe you could make it easier but the final result is awesome and delicioso :D :D

  2. I had to laugh at this post! I just made Rick Bayless's Mole sauce.... the first time it took me three hours! After several times, I'm down to 1/2 hour. He does make the recipes complicated. His recipes are totally worth it, though, don't you think? Your shrimp look fantastic!

  3. This looks wonderful! I know what you mean - the way he writes can sometimes make the dishes look more complicated than they are, but it makes for a really fun read in spite of it (or maybe because of it.)

  4. Does seem complicated, but looks sooooo delisyoso!

  5. Fabulous choice and thank you for submitting this to the Chef Spotlight Dinner event! It's a great addition to the round up that will be posted next week :)

  6. I can never have enough of shrimps. This looks so delicious and refreshing :)

  7. Hah, perhaps the recipe weirdness is just you asking it from the universe-- and it obliged! (LOL, I don't believe in the "Law of Attraction" outside Newton, hmmkay?) But you did get a fantastic dish out of it, so all's well that ends well right? :)

  8. My husband would love, love this! It looks wonderful!

  9. This looks wonderful! Doesn't Rick Bayless rock?

  10. Nice dish! I know what i'm bringing to my next potluck party (if i ever attend any, haha). But do the shrimps have to be cooked on a griddle?

  11. i think the simpler way would be to cook it in a screaming hot cast iron skillet. That way it would be much easier to get the salsa out of it as well as the shrimp. but i do like that he warmed up the salsa and infused more of the flavor into the shrimp by topping it all on it. gotta love rick bayless.

  12. Ben:
    Haha... fine, I know we're lazy.

    Fearless Kitchen:
    Haha... Yeah, it's not even the actual dish that's hard to do, it's reading through his recipe-writing! =D I think maybe we should try getting his "Everyday Mexican" and see if the recipes there are easier to go through.

    It was fun actually having something to submit! =D

    The shrimp can also be cooked in a skillet. In fact, it may be easier to do so since you can toss the skillet to flip them.

    we are never full:
    Yes, next time I think we're sticking to a skillet. We just wanted to be authentic to the "plancha" this time. Hehe. =)


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