Quick-Fried Shrimp with Sweet Toasty Garlic (Camarones al Mojo de Ajo)
Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.
3/4 cup peeled garlic cloves (about 2 large heads)
1 cup good-quality oil, preferably extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 pounds (about 48) medium-large shrimp, peeled (leaving the last joint and tail intact if you wish)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Preparing the mojo de ajo:
Either chop the garlic with a sharp knife into 1/8″ bits or drop the cloves through the feeding tube of a food processor with the motor running and process until the pieces are roughly 1/8″ in size. You should have about 1/2 cup chopped garlic. Scoop into a small (1-quart) saucepan, measure in the oil (you need it all for even cooking) and 1/2 tsp. of salt and set over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally as the mixture comes barely to a simmer (there should be just a hint of movement on the surface of the oil). Adjust the heat to the very lowest possible setting to keep the mixture at that very gentle simmer (bubbles will rise in the pot like sparkling mineral water) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is a soft, pale golden (the color of light brown sugar), about 30 minutes. The slower the cooking, the sweeter the garlic. Add the lime juice to the pan and simmer until most of the juice has evaporated or been absorbed into the garlic, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chiles, then taste the mojo de ajo and add a little more salt if you think it needs it. Keep the pan over low heat,so the garlic will be warm when the shrimp are ready. Scoop the lime wedges into a serving bowl and set on the table.
Devein the shrimp if you wish. One by one, lay the shrimp on your work surface and make a shallow incision down the back and pull or scrape out the dark (usually) intestinal tract.
Set a large 12″ heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat and spoon in 1-1/2 Tbsp. of the oil (but not any garlic) from the mojo. Add half of the shrimp to the skillet, sprinkle generously with salt and stir gently and continuously until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Stir in half the cilantro or parsley, if youre using it. Scoop the shrimp onto a deep serving platter. Repeat with another 1-1/2 Tbsp. of garlicky oil and the remaining shrimp.
When all of the shrimp are cooked, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the warm bits of garlic and chiles from the mojo pan, and scatter them over the shrimp. (You may have as much as 1/3 cup of the oil left over, for which youll be grateful-its wonderful for sauteing practically anything.) If youre a garlic lover, youre about to have the treat of your life, served with the lime wedges to add sparkle.
Recipe by Rick Bayless, Mexico: One Plate at a Time (Scribner, 2000).