At the end of October, we took a trip to Mexico. My mom rented a house in Sayulita for a couple of weeks (we were only there for 1 week), and we spent our days swimming in the ocean, reading, swimming in the pool, and eating a lot of incredibly delicious Mexican food. Perhaps my favorite thing about our trip was all of the seafood, particularly shrimp. I am a big fan of shrimp, especially when they’re cooked to perfection and slathered in butter and garlic. Another amazing preparation that we ate (at least 3 times in a week) was chile relleno stuffed with shrimp.
Knowing that I love to cook, my mom asked one of the housekeepers from the complex to come over one night to do a kind of cooking lesson with us. Maria was fantastic – funny, smart, and an incredible cook. I think she was surprised that we a) wanted to help so much with the cooking and b) that, amongst us, we knew a fair amount of Spanish! She said that many of people she cooks for say they want to practice their Spanish, but don’t actually end up talking with her that much. But Jonah is fluent in Spanish, and my mom and sister aren’t half bad either.
Maria showed up to our house at 5 o’clock, and immediately got to work boiling tomatoes and peppers, roasting poblanos, and chopping away. I’m going to focus on the recipe for Chile Relleno stuffed with shrimp, but she also made us Mahi Mahi with garlic, 3 different salsas (one mild, one hot, and one pico de gallo, or salsa Mexicana, as she called it), beans, rice, guacamole, tortillas, and flan.
And thankfully, after cooking for us in the very hot kitchen, she joined us at the table. Maria made 6 peppers, so I’ll give you roughly that recipe. She didn’t measure a single thing, so a lot of this is my own guess work.
Chile Relleno with Shrimp
1 poblano pepper per person you’re feeding. 6 people? 6 peppers.
1/4 lb shrimp per pepper
~3/4 cup all purpose flour (for coating the peppers)
4 eggs, separated
First things first. Roast the peppers. If you’ve got a gas stove, you can do this right on top of the burner. If you don’t have a gas stove, turn on your broiler, and put the peppers on a pan in the oven. Keep a close eye on them. Either way, you’ll want to turn them (with tongs) every minute or so. You want the skin to char and blister. Once they’re charred, you can either put them in a bowl and cover it, or use Maria’s fantastic technique: tie them up in a plastic bag. You want the peppers to steam up, which will help soften them and loosen the charred skin. After allowing them to sit for about 10 minutes, peel and seed the peppers. Seed them by making a lengthwise cut along one side, and cutting out the seeds with a small knife. You want to leave the stem in tact.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp, and boil until pink, but still tender. Drain and sprinkle with salt. Gently stuff the peppers with the shrimp. Put the flour on a large plate, and coat each pepper in flour. Set aside.
In a bowl, whip egg whites until foamy, but not quite till peaks form. Add the yolks, whip some more. Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a (preferably non-stick) pan over medium heat. You’re going to cook your peppers one at a time, so it may not be a bad idea to set your oven to 200 degrees and put a pan in there to put the finished peppers on, so they’ll still be warm. When the oil is hot, coat a pepper in egg mixture, and place it in the pan. Now you’re going to kind of baste the pepper with oil. Using a spoon or a spatula, gently splash the hot oil up onto the pepper, so that even the part not touching the oil cooks a bit. Continue to turn the pepper and “baste” until the egg is nice and browned. Place in the oven, and repeat with the rest of the peppers.
Serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream!