Sunday, January 2, 2011

Camerones a la Diabla

This is a great dish that I found somewhere online when we got back from our most recent trip to Oaxaca in 2005. The first morning we were there, we had a breakfast in our hotel, Parador San Miguel, that included a guajillo sauce that was absolutely delicious, the first of many amazing meals we had in Oaxaca.

We serve this dish with brown rice, chili beans, and grilled homemade tortillas. It's got quite a bit of heat but the kind that enhances the dish's flavor rather than getting in the way of it.


Guajillo sauce:
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
8 dried guajillo chiles (about 4 ounces)
½ teaspoon dried **Mexican** oregano (not Greek!)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, whole
1 teaspoon cumin, whole 
1 white onion (cebolla blanca), sliced into 8 rounds 
2 cups fish broth or as needed
2 tablespoons rendered pork lard (or vegetable or peanut oil)
⅓ cup red hot sauce (e.g. Gaucamaya) - optional

For finishing the dish:
2 tablespoons butter
1-1½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined


Guajillo Sauce: 
Roast the unpeeled garlic directly in a large skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until they get soft and black in spots. This should take about 10 minutes. Allow to cool then peel them. 

While the garlic is cooking on one side of the skillet, open the guajillas to remove the seeds and veins under running water. (YMMV, but I usually use dishwashing gloves while doing this to protect my hands from the capsaicin). After quickly drying them, add in batches to the skillet, opening them flat and pressing them down firmly on the hot surface with a spatula until they dry and darken a bit, no longer than 15 seconds each. Put them into a small bowl and cover with hot tap water to rehydrate stirring frequently so as to ensure an even soaking. After 30 minutes remove the chiles from the bowl and put them aside discarding the water.

Pound the whole cumin and black peppercorns then combine them with the oregano and 1 slice of the onion into a blender. Add the drained chiles, garlic and ½ cup of the broth. Blend to a smooth puree, scraping the sides down as needed. Poured the resulting paste into a sieve held over a bowl pushing the paste through with a wooden spoon. Once you have moved whatever you can through the sieve, scrape along the bottom of the sieve to get whatever hasn't fallen into the bowl yet.

Add the fat (lard/oil) into the skillet over a medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the strained puree stirring while thickening it over the heat. Lower the heat thinning it out as you add broth to it a bit at a time while it cooks gently for about 20-30 minutes. If you are using the hot sauce, add it towards the end.

In a separate skillet, melt the butter over a medium-high heat. Add the onion slices and cook until very soft. Then put in the shrimp using tongs. Cook each shrimp for one minute then turn over to cook for another minute. You want to make sure they are not overcooked. When they are done, move them into the cooking sauce to serve.


  1. How spicy is this dish?

  2. It's kind of spicy but that's from the guajillo chiles which has a very delicious and Mexican flavor.