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Pati Jinich

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.

Dried Shrimp Soup 1b.JPGThat was 20 years ago and I haven’t been back to that Restaurant since those teen years. So I can’t vouch for how good it is these days… Plus, nostalgia has its way of overpowering memories sometimes too.

But one can find that Caldo de Camarón, with slight variations in many restaurants in Mexico city, and it is even more popular throughout the long Mexican coasts.

The latest one I’ve tried and I think even a better one, regardless of the power of nostalgia, is at one of the Guadiana Restaurants, which I always visit each time I go to the city.

Dried Shrimp Soup 2.JPGAs much as I have looked, there is no Caldo de Camarón to be found around DC. But one can find the handful of ingredients that the soup calls for. Although they are just a handful, they have enough personality to power a rock band.

The dried shrimp, of course, pictured above. Which need to be soaked for 5 to 10 minutes, as they have been salted not only to concentrate their flavor but also to preserve them, so the salt is, truly, intense.  Then the shrimp are rinsed and cooked in water, creating a broth which provides the main and matchless flavoring of the soup.

Then, the Guajillo chiles, with their mild heat and crowd pleasing taste. After they are quickly stemmed, seeded and toasted…

…beautifully toasted, really, look at the color…

Dried Shrimp Soup 3b.JPGThey are then simmered with one of Mexico’s workhorse combinations: onion, garlic and tomato. Some people add parsley to the mix. Some add Bay Leaf, like me.

Dried Shrimp Soup 4b.JPGThat goes into the blender, and then strained into a pot with some hot oil waiting to season the mix.

Dried Shrimp Soup 5a.JPGOnce seasoned, in goes that deep amber colored dried shrimp broth.

Dried Shrimp Soup 6b.JPGThe traditional cubed potatoes and carrots…

I like to add more than the usual recipes call for, so that neither me nor my guests have to be hunting those little soft chunks in the soup bowl.

Dried Shrimp Soup 7.JPGWhen the shrimp have cooled, remove their heads, tails, and legs. Most cooks keep the shells on. They are a salty and crunchy addition in the soup. However, you can remove the shells if you feel like it. For a softer feel. Then cook for 10 more minutes so all of the flavors can come together.

Dried Shrimp Soup 8.JPGDo serve the soup really hot. And always, always, always, have fresh limes ready to be squeezed in the soup.

Dried Shrimp Soup 9a.JPGThat fresh squeezed lime juice is what makes all of the flavors in the soup, truly shine.

DRIED SHRIMP SOUPCaldo de Camarón

Serves: 6 to 8

Caldo de Camarón" alt="DRIED SHRIMP SOUPCaldo de Camarón" />

Ingredients

1 pound Mexican dried shrimp

3 ounces guajillo chiles (about 8-10 chiles)

1/4 pound ripe tomatoes

1 garlic clove

2 bay leaves

1 ounce slice of onion, or about 3 tablespoons, roughly chopped

1 pound potatoes, rinsed, peeled and cubed

1/2 pound carrots, rinsed, peeled and cubed

3 to 4 limes

2 tablespoons oil

To Prepare

Cover the shrimp with cold water and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain the shrimp, rinse them and place them in a medium pot. Cover the shrimp with 10 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once at a simmer, lower the medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, reserving both the broth and the shrimp. Allow everything to cool.

Once the shrimp have cooled, remove the heads, tails and legs from the shrimp. Be sure to keep the shells on the shrimp if you want them to add some crunch to the soup.

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and place them on a hot comal. Toast until their color changes to opaque, for about 10 to 15 seconds and flip to the other side.

Place the chiles, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, and onion into a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat, then puree until smooth.

Over medium heat, add two tablespoons of oil to a large soup pot. Strain the puree over the oil and then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, allowing the puree to season and thicken.

Add the shrimp broth, potatoes, carrots, and shrimp to the puree and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.

Serve the soup with fresh lime to drizzle over the top.

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Comments

Se me hizo agua la boca, se me antojo tanto un caldito de camaron ademas del tequilita. Des una gran nevada y buen frio de Toronto, te saluda con mucho cariño
Perla y Claudia

Uy, que rico verlas aquí adentro del blog!!! Les mando muchos abrazos con muchos caldos de camarones para todos los días fríos…. Besos, Pati



Paty, Que rico!! el caldito del Tecamacharlie’s sigue igual, el lugar mas vacio, (yo he ido en fin de semana) esta a gusto para ir con los niños porque tienen area de juegos, ojalá vayas cuando vengas a México. Feliz año, un abrazo.

Hola Renata,
No me digas!! Me preguntaba si seguiría bueno… Hace años, años, que no voy. Llevaré a los niños cuando visitemos México. Feliz año también. Me encanta recibir tus mensajes aquí, gracias!



Hola Pati!!!!!!
Tanto le gusta a mi familia el caldo de camarón que compré en México el que venden de Knorr en polvo…….
Claro que no sale igual!!!!!!!!!
Pero quizás si lo compongo con lo que tu pones se mejore????
Creo que aquí no he visto el camarón seco.
Quién no se tomaba todos los ‘shots’ de caldo de camarón que sobraban en la mesa?????????
MMMMM!! Ay…Ya se me antojó demasiado !!!
Un beso grande, desde estas heladas tierras, Betty

Hola Betty!
AY si, yo me tomaba todos los shots de caldito extra en la mesa y le pedia mas al mesero… que descaro…
Si! Seguro que si le haces la base de jitomate y chile… y lo terminas con el de Knorr y las verduras te queda delicioso. Hay que usar y mejorar lo que uno tiene accesible ; ) Muchos besos desde estas otras tierras heladas… Pati



I just discovered your TV Show, I can not believe I haven’t seen it before!!!! I immediately went to my computer and found your web site.
I am from Sonora, Mexico and as you may know we do not cook Mexican food from the South of the Country, because we do not know how!! but we love it….
When I came here 8 years ago I started learning about Mexican food from my friends, unbelievable in US and learning about my culture, ha ;))
I read some of your recipes on your site and I really like them, I definitely want your cookbook.
Felicidades y gracias por tu trabajo……

Hi Victoria,
Thank you for your lovely message : )



Pati,
I have not been able to find a 7 mares receipe. Do you have one that I missed? During Cuaresma it would have been good to make.
Gracias,
Jose

Hola Jose! I will try to find a recipe for you!



Saw a program of yours just the other day. You made a table condiment by boiling pineapple skins and adding hot peppers and ???
could you give me that one more time. I wasn’t fast enough to write it down and thought I would remember, but no such luck.
I just love Mexican food, and your show is great.
Thanks, Cynthia

Hi Cynthia,
I’m not really sure what episode or recipe you are referring to, do you remember which episode it was?

Pati shes confusing you with Daisy Martinez and her Pineapple Vinagre. lol




Yo tambien probe ese delicioso caldito hace ya muchos años, voy a tratar de hacerlo y ver si sale bien.
Gracias por la receta


Any online sources for dried shrimp? All I can find are the very small shrimp in the Thai & Korean stores.


I to have found your TV show. WHAT A WOMAN, she can make delicious foods out of anything. I have tried two of her recipes, and gave them to my wife, she loved them. I would like to copy the recipes from your web site, but will probably have to buy all your books. You need to be on OPRAH, and your recipes will fly off the shelves. Keep up the great work, and thank-you for coming to the U.S.A. we needed you. al

You are incredibly kind to write such a complimentary post. I can’t thank you enough for your support. I hope you continue to enjoy the show, and I will keep you updated about the status of my cookbook!



Hi, I just recently tried your recipe of Rajas caon queso y arroz and my husband and I loved it!!! looking forward to trying different recipes. I’ve tried recipes from other tv shows and I really haven’t liked any and their measurements and instructions are always off. But yours was perfect.
Thanks


Mexican dried shrimp are $32/lb online and $16/lb at a local market – are you sure this recipe calls for 1 lb dried? That’s an awfully expensive soup…

Hola Tamara, I am sorry you are unable to find less expensive Mexican dried shrimp! I found mine at my local latin grocery store for $5 a pound and in Mexico it is much cheaper.



Pati,
As a Chilanga living in NJ, I greatly appreciate your work! Love caldo de Camarón, I used to have it at Tecamacharlie’s myself! And yes, it was mouth-watering… I will try it this week and will let you know how it went. My husband (a chef’s son – thank you very much) will hopefully love it as well.
I greatly enjoy reading your posts: El Farolito, La Costera @ Acapulco, Feria de Chapultepec… You help me remember all those wonderful things. So thank you for bringing my country a little closer to me.
Please keep posting!
Michelle.

Hola Michelle, So glad we use to go to the same places growing up, and I can bring that little piece of home to you through my posts! If you have any recipe requests, just let me know! Also, let me know what you think of the Caldo de Camarón. :)



Pati,
Quick question: should I puree the chile/garlic/tomato/etc. mix with the cooking water, or w/o it?
Mil gracias!!
Michelle.

Hola Michelle,
You don’t need to add the cooking water, as the tomatoes will be juicy and mushy… But if you want to add a little, like 1/4 cup or so, it’s ok too!



Well Pati, I tried your Caldo de Camarón recipe.
I am amazed… It tastes like, well, like Caldo de camarón! It was delicious, truly Tecamacharlie’s-worthy. And the best part about it is that I made it myself, and (thanks to you), I actually cooked something that tastes exactly like the real deal! So thank you for the great recipe, and for the ego-booster as well…
2 recipes down, and extremely happy with the results. I’ll keep trying more!
Mil gracias once again.
Michelle.

So glad you enjoyed the Caldo de Camarón Michelle! :)



Se ve delicioso. Lo voy a intentar esta semana a ver si me sale igual de sabroso.


Pati

(Tocaya ;)) I love Caldo de Camaron!!! Its a tradition at my parents house to serve it for New Year’s Eve Celebration!!! We add more kinds of shrimp besides the dry one (fresh Pacotilla, Regular and one time even Jumbo), it makes the dish a whole meal :)
Here in Chicago I havent really found a good Caldo de Camaron, despite the very good Mexican SeaFood places like “El Veneno” (Nayarit Style cooking). If ever in Chicago you have to check them out. Anyways, I’ve tasted something similar in a Thai Restaurant, its called Tom Yum Shrimp. Its spicy and tangy :)

I loved loved loved the fact that you gave the lime the importance it deserves for this dish! :)

Lucky me I have in my pantry everything I need to go make me some warm Caldo de Camaron for this cold cold day :)

Hola Patti, Your family’s Caldo de Camaron New Year’s Eve tradition sounds so lovely! I will have to try it your way with the fresh shrimp, too. It sounds fabulous and hearty!!



Does it have to be the big shrimp? here in Monterrey it’s easiest to get the teeny tiny ones. thanks!

Absolutely not, you can also use the smaller ones too!



Dear Pati:
I looked over the recipe and comments below. Good thoughts and ideas.
I remember my mother using a dry shrimp in her soup. She was from
Northern Mexico about 100 miles from Nogales. They couldn’t get fresh fish in her village, so they consequently use lots of dried fish in their dishes. One I recall she made some sort of patty then use the dried shrimp as the base for her soup. It was delicious.
We didn’t think to ask for that particular recipe before she passed away. Do any of your reader know this particular recipe or you might know what I’m talking about. It was some what clear with some veggies, unable to remember what vegetable she used. I can’t remember if she use the dried shrimp in her patties and then boiled the patties or add the more dried shrimp in the soup base as well.
Hope you or someone else can figure what I’m talking about.
Sincerely Elizabeth

Let me give it a thought…



I saw your show for the third time today on PBS and your recipe for FISH OVER FENNEL SALAD WITH JALAPEÑO AND OLIVE SALSA had me diving head first into your website and its collection of recipes. I know I have a lot of baking ahead of me in the months to come. When I came upon this recipe, my eyes filled up with tears. I have been on every site imaginable trying to find this recipe. You see, I lost contact with a dear friend back in 97′ and have had no luck in finding her and I miss her dearly. One night her husband made this soup while I was visiting and I could not stop eating it. I think I had three bowls with a generous addition of hot sauce and lime added to my bowl. Unfortunately, she moved before I could get the recipe for his soup from her, and now I have it. I will be making this soup very soon. Thank you for the return of fond memories and a recipe for a soup I just can’t resist. Best Wishes!

Best wishes to you!!! I hope you enjoy the shop when you make it!




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