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Nov 30, 2006 05:09 PM

Camarones a la Diabla Suggestion?

Camarones a la Diabla... shrimp sauced in a very spicy, thick cooked salsa available on Mexican menus throughout California & elsewhere... but does anyone have a great sounding recipe?

Here is my dilemma... I've had great versions of this dish in many places... in L.A. at Birriera La Barca (as good as anywhere in Mexico) and places throughout Mexico. However, this elusive dish rarely gets described in cookbooks & when it does the recipe seems wrong.

I've had the dish in West Coast Mexico where it has a strong Worcestire sauce component... I've enjoyed it, but the versions I would prefer to master are the more Central Mexican... which has a nutty, creaminess to it... or the East Coast Mexico version which I swear has to have Cocunut Juice or Cream.

Yet... I have never seen a recipe that has either nuts or coconut. Furthermore... everyone seems to use a different Chile... I've seen Habanero, Arbol, Chipotle, Piquin, Chiltepin and I can't quite pinpoint which I have liked. Then some recipes add volume with white wine, others with broth, others with Worcestire, some with roasted tomato... and like I said some versions must have nuts or coconut.

Has anybody encountered a particularly good recipe... particularly with nuts or coconut or something of that nature? It would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Yesterday I feasted on a delicious tamal that the Oaxacan cook at my restaurant brought back from a street vendor in the area of pico and wilshire in LA.

    I believe a similar style red sauce that you may be looking for was enclosed in this tamal. It had a definite nut or seed based creaminess to it. It was incredibly delicate and addicting on a canvas of creamy masa cocido.

    I think it may have been either en cachuate or pipian rojo in style.

    Have you tried experimenting with these sauces? I can post some recipes if youd like.

    I might suggest depending on your time constraints you do some research by means of buying a dona maria or rogelio bueno pipian rojo and experimenting. Or if you are more ambitious a peanut butter with different dried chile sauce bases taste testing.

    To find out if its Habanero pepper or not - I find the best way to extract the flavor from a Habanero (IE kill the heat and release its fruitiness) is by means of simmering one whole - asado or raw in a pot of friojles negros.

    In my personal experimentation I have found there to be little difference in Pequin and chile tepin other than shape (tepin are little spheres and oddly can only be seed spread through bird digestion ;) ). Both are searing hot. As one of your favorite versions is served up at a birreria, it may be pequin as this is one traditional garnish for birria.

    Beyond chowhound and DK, the most information I have culled on the subject of Mexican cuisine is by self-teaching myself spanish and pratically harrasing the cooks with my accolades and questions when I dine on a revelatory dish. Try this at the Birreria.

    Another suggestion would be to do some reading into the coastal regional cuisines of Mexico --perhaps Nayarit, Veracruz, Guerrero, Sinaloa or Oaxaca as Camarones are more pletiful there than Zacatecas.

    I try my best to communicate with him (no english) and from what I gather this tamal vendor was from Michoachan - different from the usual (absent) Oaxaqueno he usually patronizes. I guess you could [streaching it] call Michoacan - Central Mexico.

    7 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      Thanks for the advice... a few years back I tried adding Peanut Butter to a Guajillo-Arbol sauce but didn't like the color or texture... but I will have to experiment.

      About Chiltepin's seeding by birds... that is how Chiles first got to Mexico from South America (an estimated 30,000 years ago)... then it was over the last 6,000 years when most of the World's modern varities were developed in Mesoamerica.

      Although, I should note... that contemporay Chiles have two general origins Mexico & Peru. Those from Peru generally ended up being used in European cuisine, while those from Mexico generally ended up in Asian & African cuisine.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        It's not a stretch at all to call Michoacán Central Mexico. It's a big state, with a Pacific coastal area at the far west and a high-mountain area that's definitely central Mexico. The next state north of Michoacán is Guanajuato, and the easternmost border of Michoacán is with Edomex (State of Mexico).

        Camarones a la Diabla are very popular here in GDL, too. The following is one recipe for its salsa:

        10 chiles guajillo, (100 g) despepitado y sin semilla
        8 chiles morita, (30 g) despepitado y sin semilla
        1/2 cucharadita de chile piquín, molido
        1 taza vinagre
        1/2 taza vinto tinto
        2 clavos
        1 raja de canela
        1/2 cucharada de pimienta
        1/2 cucharadita de pimentón
        1/2 cucharada de jenijbre
        1/2 cucharada de orégano
        sal a gusto

        Muele todos los ingredientes y cuele. Caliente y sazone.

        Rinde: 2 tazas

        ¡Provecho! And please let me know if this is the recipe you're looking for.

        1. re: cristina

          That recipe looks very, very appealing... I will definitely try it.

          Muchas Gracias... una cosa... pimenton es lo mismo que Allspice (pimienta dulce) - o es algo differente?

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            Pimenton es paprika en ingles, no necesariamente el estilo ahumado de España.

            1. re: maestra

              Sí, así es, como lo dice la Maestra. Paprika normal, nada elegante como estilo ahumado.


            2. re: Eat_Nopal

              I believe pimenton is smoked paprika from Spain, it comes in mild or spicy, at least that's what I have in a tin labelled 'pimenton' but if there's a diff. one I'm curious to know since this spicy shrimp dish has my interest.

              Note added a couple of minutes later:
              I should have waited a few minutes before posting it seems.
              Parece que contestamos casi a la vez. Gracias por clarificar lo del pimenton! Igual voy a utilizar el que tengo...

          2. re: kare_raisu

            We tried Dona Marias pipian and found the soy-peanut flavor overpowering. Are there others you use that don't feature that combo. some of these nights, I could stand a shortcut product, but now I'm really gunshy.

          3. There is a very good version in the Bayless Mexican Kitchen book.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy

              Hi Candy... I have that book... but don't remember seeing the recipe... what do you like about his version?

            2. I was just down in L.A. in North Hollywood. I stayed across the street from a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant which had several shrimp dishes on there menu, so I looked up Mexican shrimp recipes on the web and found Camarones a la Diabla to be the most popular and I tried that. Theirs was with catsup. After I read your post I did a little experimentation and came up with the following recipe from mi casa casina.

              Camarones a la Diabla sin Tomate’

              1 large Red Bell Pepper (Pimento)
              1 oz dried Guajillo Chili Pods
              3 Cups Water
              1 Cinnamon Stick
              1 T Chicken Base
              4 medium Garlic Cloves
              ¼ Cup Peanuts
              Dash Ground Chipotle
              ¼ t Oregano
              ¼ t Ground Cumin
              ¼ Cup Coconut Milk
              2 T Sugar
              ¼ Oil *I use Olive Oil
              ¼ medium Onion (slivered)
              ¼ large Green Bell Pepper (julienne)
              ½ Jalapeño (sliced)
              2 cloves Garlic (sliced)
              1 # Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
              *Chopped Peanuts and Cilantro for garnish

              Place guajillo chili pods in water and simmer. While guajillo chili pods simmer prepare red bell pepper.
              Use a little of the oil to coat the large red bell pepper. Place red bell pepper on cast iron Comal or other oven cookware. Place in preheated oven @ 425 degrees bake, turning occasionally until skin blisters and blackens on all sides. Remove from oven and let cool slightly (it’s easiest to remove skin while still warm). When cool enough remove skin.
              Use water from the guajillo chili pods add cinnamon and chicken base simmer to make chicken stock.
              Remove guajillo chili pods from water (save the water). Place the guajillo chili pods, roasted red bell pepper, 1 Cup of the chicken stock, the 4 medium garlic cloves, peanuts, chipotle powder, oregano, cumin, coconut milk and sugar in blender, and puree`.
              In what is left of the oil sauté onions and green bell pepper until tender. Add jalapeño, sliced garlic and shrimp. Continue to sauté until shrimp starts to turn pink add the mole` (the pepper sauce you just made). Cover and continue to simmer about 5 to 8 minutes, until shrimp is done.
              Serve with rice (use the 2 remaining cups of chicken stock with the cinnamon stick, a ¼ t whole cumin seed, ¼ t oregano, a dash of salt and 1 cup rice). Garnish with the chopped peanuts and cilantro.

              1. if you can lay your hands on the mexican pumpkin seed (pipian), you may be closer to the "nut" influence you're seeking. this semilla quite resembles an eye when unhulled-white with silvery green edge. Not the same flavor as the one we normally see. Here in Christmas tree country, I have had a la diabla in a local restaurant and the homes of a couple of our local mexican families. Each is a little different, but I have yet to encounter one made with peanut butter. You might experiment with toasted hulled pipian, toasted sesame seed, and corn tortilla-torn & browned in lightly greased griddle. There is also a group here who throw in a handful of animal crackers. These all add flavor, but are also important to thickening the sauce.