Camarones al Mojo de Ajo – Garlic Shrimp

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On our first date, my husband and I cooked Camarones al mojo de ajo. We’ve been in love ever since.

I love the Spanish word for garlic clove: diente, which also means tooth. And there is some resemblance, come to think about it.

serves 2

2 Tb olive oil
3/4 lb large raw shrimp
1 head of garlic
A few shakes of red chili pepper flakes
¼ cup dry white wine  such as Chardonnay
1 lime, juiced
large pinch smoked Maldon salt to taste (you can use regular or sea salt if you don’t have that)

Defrost shrimp in in the refrigerator overnight or in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. Peel the shrimp and save the shells in the freezer for a future batch of shrimp broth. If you are planning to eat the shrimp with your hands, keep the tails on. But for tacos or pasta, remove them.

Smash the garlic head in a molcajete (mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock). This will loosen the peel, separate the dientes, and smash the garlic to release the flavor. Discard the garlic peel and finely mince the garlic. Mix with the peeled shrimp.

Heat olive oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan.  Add garlic and the shrimp. Toss with a metal spatula until the shrimp turn completely pink. Sprinkle with a little red chili pepper flakes. Squeeze in a large lime and add wine and scrape the pan. Salt to taste. I used a few grinds of smoked sea salt.

To make tacos, I first fry half a sliced onion and a bell pepper (you can sub a cup of frozen bell peppers) in olive oil, then set aside in a bowl. Fry the shrimp in the same pan and then mix with the onions and peppers. Cut half a large avocado (or a whole small one) into chunks, and separate cilantro leaves from stems to make about 1/2 cup of leaves. Mix all ingredients together and serve with homemade tortillas

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Linguine with Prawns

My husband, Jesús, always orders this dish at Italian seafood restaurants. This is an easy Friday night dinner, especially if you use the jarred sun-dried tomatoes. Fill a couple of wine glasses and light some candles. Sip a bit of wine while you’re cooking to get in the mood.

serves 4

1/2   package linguine

1 Tb olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 sprig  or about 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

1 Tb dried oregano or 2 Tb fresh oregano

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes reconstituted in oil or water (see below)

1 pound large raw shrimp (26-30 shrimp per pound), (deveined unless you want a lot of work for yourself.)

1/2 cup white wine (chardonnay is nice) (or liquid from reconstituting sun-dried tomatoes)

pinch of salt, to taste

6 cups spinach leaves (1 bunch spinach), stems removed

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

6 leaves fresh basil, torn, about 2 Tb

1 lemon (Meyer is nice) juice and grated peel

You can buy jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil (I got mine at Trader Joe’s) or reconstitute them yourself: Soak 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in a mixture of  ¼ cup warmed white wine and 2 Tb boiling water for 30 minutes until soft and pliable. Cut into strips, reserving soaking liquid.

Heat a large pot  of salted water to cook linguine.

Defrost shrimp in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes.

While shrimp is defrosting, mince garlic cloves, oregano, and rosemary needles and gather ingredients.

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup water.

While linguine is cooking, heat 1 Tb olive oil  in wok or large heavy frying pan. Sauté garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary and oregano for a minute, then add shrimp and sauté for 3 minutes.

Add salt, stemmed spinach leaves, basil,  sun-dried tomatoes, wine or soaking liquid from sun-dried tomatoes, and reserved water from cooking pasta. Squeeze a lemon and finely grate zest over shrimp. Cover pan and cook one more minute until shrimp turn bright orange and are opaque inside, and spinach is wilted, but still bright green. Toss with pine nuts and drained linguine. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.