Fava beans have been around for quite a long time. Ancient Egyptians prized them so much that they were buried with them inside of their tombs! Originally native to Africa and southwest Asia, today Favas are cultivated all over the world. Thanks to the Spaniards, Mexicans have been enjoying them since the XVI century, in may different ways.
Filled with nutrients and Vitamins, they are also filled with a deep strong flavor. In Central Mexico, they are commonly found fresh at markets in the spring time where they range in size from the mini to the large and in colors from the pale green to the deep purple. When fresh, they come with a shell and a leathery skin underneath it, both of which needs to be removed before eating. Which can be quite laborious. Then they are eaten in soups, stews and salads mostly.
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When I was in high school in Mexico City, Tecamacharlie’s was one of the most popular meeting spots. The name came from Tecamachalco, the neighborhood where it sits tucked away in a corner, and the chain of Restaurants it belongs to, Anderson’s Carlos & Charlies. There, my friends and I would meet some Friday afternoons after school, to have a late and long lunch or comida and embrace the weekend.
Even before school started those Friday mornings, there would be one thing in my mind: Tecamacharlie’s top notch Caldo de Camarón. A rich and thick soupy broth made with dried and salted shrimp, and seasoned with a base of Guajillo chile sauce.
A soup so flavorful and filling, it was served as a courtesy as soon as you finally sat down in that incredibly busy and loud place. The waiters brought it out of the kitchen still simmering, served in a little caballito, the little glass shots used to serve Tequila.
There were plump limes already quartered at the table, waiting to be squeezed into the soup before you drank it in one gulp. If you were lucky, the bottom of the shot had a shrimp, and maybe a couple pieces of potato and carrot. Then you could stick your fork or finger in there, to eat those little treasures that tasted like adventures at the sea port. Far away from the City.
Continue reading Where to Find Caldo de Camarón? Make Your Own…
The Guajillo chile is one of the most commonly used Mexican dried chiles, and it is now widely available in the United States. It is long and pointy, with a beautiful maroon color. Its skin is quite smooth and shinny on the outside, but it is hard and tougher and less pliable than others, like the Ancho.
It has a pleasant and deep flavor, with mild heat. It tends to be a crowd pleaser.
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Dried shrimp are used not only for the Caldo de Camarón, or Shrimp Soup or Broth. They are also used to make shrimp patties that are then bathed in different mole sauces. Also to prepare tamales, rice, bean and potato dishes. Even some salsas that used them ground as a seasoning and thickening base.
Dried shrimp come in different sizes, from the miniature ones smaller than 1/2″ to much larger ones bigger than 3″. Because they are lightly cooked, then salted and left to dry in the sun, they concentrate their flavor intensely and deeply. They are also quite salty.
Continue reading Dried Shrimp: Camarón Seco