Sunday, May 1, 2011

Camarones Criolla Torta - Puerto Rican Inspired Shrimp Toasted Sandwich

I was watching food TV and Andrew Zimmern was doing a piece on the Caribbean.   They showed food from Cuba, and Puerto Rico and I began to dream of cocina criolla - Caribbean cuisine.  

It was time for me to make some good ole fashion Puerto Rican food.   I don't know a bunch of recipes but I remember the flavors from being a kid.   It ain't that complicated!

In the episode Andrew Zimmern catches a lobster and it got me thinking of seafood and criolla cooking.

So this is the plan I came up with.   I wanted to make some quick and easy Puerto Rican style shrimp.   I am sure there is a recipe for this somewhere but I wanted to go with my pasta flavor memories to whip this up.   

I first took out a nice aluminum caldero (pot).   I put in a few tablespoons of olive oil with 2 teaspoons of Achiotina.  This is a must have in your kitchen if you are going to try creole cooking.    It is essentially lard with Annatto.   Annatto is the spice that reminds me the most of my childhood.   I used to watch my Abuelita (grandma) and Abuelito (grandpa) cook up some delicious Puerto Rican food for me.  My Abuelito always wanted his food colorful.  Annatto brings a WONDERFUL red color to the dish.   He used to say to my Abuelita "more color more color" and they used to go at it over the stove.    Love love love those memories.

Once the oil was all hot and filled with "more color" *giggles* I tossed in some Recaito which is a cilantro based sofrito.    As soon as this hits the pan your nose thinks "Puerto Rico".   This stuff is an amazing cooking case.  AMAZING.   I got that toasted and cooked up and then tossed in 3 chopped up garlic cloves.  Garlic = PUERTO RICO.

I cooked the base down and you know its done once you smell it.  It smells like a Puerto Rican restaurant.   If you don't know what that smells like than cook it until before the garlic goes brown.   I cut the shrimp down and cleaned them up.   I tossed them in my base and very quickly cooked them.  Finally I tossed them in some fresh squeezed lime juice and salt.  Acidity to cut to lard it wasa cooked in.  What did I get some Camarones Criolla!  Camarones Criolla once again is Puerto Rican style shrimp.

Now from here on in I go off in my own direction.   I remember my Abuelito making this salad.  It was a simple one but it reminds me so much of him.   He has since passed but this style salad will always put a smile to my face and remind me of that sweet man.   xoxo

The salad was simple...lettuce, garlic, and onion mixed in olive oil and vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper.   I wanted to do a play on this so I came up with the following idea.   I was going to garlic quick pickle some cabbage and carrots.  This would be my bite and acidity.  It would also take through the garlic flavor.   I then cut up a green tomato and coated one side with oil and tossed the non oil side on a very hot grill to give it nice char marks and give it that oh so delicious grilled flavor.    I would serve the two together and this would be served on top of the shrimps.

Next step was the bread.   I halved a nice halved sandwich roll.  I coated the open bread sides with butter and tossed it on a smoking hot grill to give it some nice char with the buttery bread goodness that it already was.

I then started assembly.    Bread down and shrimps go down first.   I then put a nice piece of jalapeno pepper jack cheese.  I gave that a quick coating of chipotle mayonnaise and tossed it in the broiler to melt the cheese.  I took out the melty shrimp goodness and topped it with a slice or two of tht delicious grilled green tomato.   I finished it with a topping of that garlic quick pickled cabbage and carrots.

I served it along was some fresh tostones.  Fried green platanos from Castillo de Jagua in park slope with their disturbing delicious garlic green sauce.     

What did I get? Sabor!   Pure deliciousness.   Good lord of mercy.  This sandwich was one of the ages!  I loved it.  Pure pleasure I tell you pure pleasure.    Here is the final pic

Don't need to go to PR when you can bring PR home!
Viva Boricua!!!!

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