Spicy seafood soup: Chilpachole
Chilpachole is a specialty of Veracruz, but it is found all over Mexico, especially in Mexico City, where food of every region comes together. It can be made with either shrimp or crabmeat, and the various recipes I have been given for both are remarkably similar, with homemade fish stock and ancho chile being used in either case. If using shrimp, leaving the heads on some of them will intensify the flavor. Ingredients:
- 3 quarts good, homemade fish stock, strained
- 3 ancho chiles, seeded, deveined and soaked in hot water until soft
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 4 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 fresh sprig
- ½ teaspoon cumin seed
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined or 2 pounds cleaned crabmeat
- avocado slices for garnish
- chopped onion and chopped cilantro for garnish
Place 1 cup of the fish stock in a blender with the chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, thyme and cumin and blend to a smooth puree.
Heat the oil in a stock pot, add the puree and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the remaining stock gradually, stirring to combine with the puree. Add the shrimp or crab and simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve in bowls, garnished with avocado slices, chopped onion and chopped cilantro.