The Food of Latin America: Gran Cocina Latina by Marciel E. Presilla has become a fast favorite for me. Not only is it written by the chef of two of my favorite restaurants in Hoboken (Zafra & Cucharamama) but it’s about 5 inches thick with recipes & stories & just the know-how of a seasoned Latin chef. Growing up we ate mostly Italian or American Italian dishes with other random cuisines that my mom experimented with - but in the 80s & 90s that really translated into stir-fry in the wok. Since then I feel like I’ve had the absolute privilege to try many different worldly cuisines & Cuban is easily at the top of the list. So when I got my hands on this cookbook (thanks for the great Christmas gift Chris!) I had to cook from it immediately.
The first recipe that I tried was the Cuban-Style Shrimp inn Enchilado Sauce but I had to ad-lib a bit because I refused to go out into the polar vortex. I have to say it is one of the most flavorful dishes I have ever made & even with my substitutions.
And then the absolute best part was that Chris helped me prep. (Most of the time I resume my position as “queen of the kitchen” & kick Chris out & do my thing.) It’s so fun to cook with your loved ones because then you all have added something to the dish & that’s what i think makes it taste the best!
PS: Happy Birthday to my long time bestie, Kara! I love you lady! & happiest birthday to one of my NYC soulmates, Natalie! xx
(recipe adapted from Cuban-Style Shrimp in Enchilado Sauce in The Food of Latin America: Gran Cocina Latina by Marciel E. Presilla)
Ingredients for the Shrimp:
- 1 lb medium shrimp, shelled, deveined
- 4 cloves of garlic, mashed with a mortar & pestle
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Ingredients for the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 roasted red peppers (from the jar! yes this is what I substituted for the original 2 medium green peppers - seed & core them if you use the fresh ones), finely chopped
- 1 hot cherry pepper (or as the cookbook suggests 1 jalapeño or 1/2 habanero chile), seeded & finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup dry sherry (or as suggested: dry white wine or lager beer)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
- Place the shrimp in a large bowl.
- Rub them all over with the smashed garlic. If you don’t have a mortar & pestle you can also grate the garlic on a box grater or microplane to create a paste.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt & the lime juice to the shrimp. Toss well.
- Set aside & let rest covered for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the chopped garlic & onion.
- Cook until the onions become translucent. If the garlic starts to get too brown, simply lower the heat.
- Add the chopped roasted peppers (if you’re using the fresh bell peppers add them when you add the onion in the previous step).
- Stir in the hot cherry pepper, cumin, oregano, allspice, tomato sauce, sherry, ketchup & worcestershire sauce.
- Season with salt & pepper & add the parsley.
- Stir well.
- Simmer covered for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. If you prefer a looser sauce, add some more sherry.
- Add the shrimp & cook for another 3 minutess.
- Serve over rice & beans.