This week has been a chili filled week, thanks to Marx Foods and their dried chiles. Marx Foods is having another blogging/recipe challenge, and I asked to play! They sent me a dried chile sampler, and I'm a happy boy. The card enclosed in the package said something along the lines of "excited to see what the two of you create!" Well, it seems that Bulgaria is not a dried chile culture, despite the fact that the chile (aka, "the pepper") might as well be the national food of the country. They seem to be "all about the pepper" over there, so I was a little surprised when Gal looked at the box of dried chiles and asked "and what are we supposed to do with these?"
"I got it covered," I said. "First, you make a purée."
I didn't really say that purée part, but it really is the first thing to do. The chile purée is almost a universal thing when it comes to chiles, because you can use it for so much. This week, I used the purée for a slow cooked, thick and tender chili con carne, this most awesome shrimp dish, a little chili sauce for my shredded beef, and as a flavor boost to some ad hoc tortilla soup. Plus, Gal used it for making some freakin' amazing chocolate! God, I love
Mole grilled shrimp skewers
Makes 4 skewers, serving 2
1 aji amarillo chile*
2 mulato chiles*
4 puya chiles*
1 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 oz dark chocolate (I used chocovivo's 85% because it's the best, but slum it if you have to).
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 lb large shrimp
1 large colorful bell pepper or 3-6 small mini-bells
1 ripe, but firm, mango
8-12 fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnishing and finishing
2 cobs of corn
1 tbsp olive oil
* Substitute about 2 oz of any combination of dried chiles, hot or mild, depending on your preferences. The combination of aji amarillo, mulato, and puya makes a mild and fruity sauce, but please experiment.
If using bamboo skewers, you should soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to an hour, prior to assembling the shrimp skewers. This helps keep the skewers from burning.
Using scissors and kitchen gloves, cut the stems and clean seeds from the chiles. Place the chiles in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Allow the chiles to cool for a few minutes, then blend well in a covered blender. Strain the mixture through a colander, coarse strainer, or foodmill, discarding the residue. If using a strainer with a fine mesh, you may have to stir and rub with the back of a spoon until all the purée is pushed through, leaving any seeds and tough skins behind.
Rinse and wipe the saucepan clean, then heat it over medium high heat. Add the butter and ground cumin and stir until fragrant, browned, and bubbly. Carefully add the chile purée to the butter and fry until it's hot, bubbly, and well combined. Lower the heat to low, and stir in the chocolate and salt. Keep stirring so that nothing burns. Congratulations, your sauce is now called "mole" (it's pronounced "molay")! Now, remove the pan from heat, but keep the mole in the pan for a later step.
To prepare the skewers, peel and devein the shrimp, peel and cut the mango into chunks, wash the basil and tear 8-12 whole leaves off of the stems, and seed and cut the peppers into bite sized pieces.
Alternate the shrimp, mango, peppers, and basil leaves on the skewers until you have four equally good looking skewers. Brush or drizzle them with the olive oil.
Shuck and clean the silk from the cobs of corn. Brush or drizzle the cobs with olive oil.
Preheat a grill to very high heat (about ten minutes). Place corn cobs and shrimp skewers on the hot grill. Grill shrimp skewers for about 4 minutes per side, until the shrimp have turned nice and pink.
Grill the corn until it is hot and slightly charred in places (they may even pop a little bit!), turning periodically.
Place the corn and shrimp skewers on a platter or plate. Salt the skewers and corn cobs to taste.
Reheat the mole over medium heat until it's warm and flows well enough to pour. Drizzle the warm mole over the shrimp skewers. Serve any extra sauce on the side.
If you like, chop or snip some extra basil to sprinkle over the food.
In keeping with the chile & chocolate theme, why not have some of these for dessert?