Damiana is a small, yellow flowered shrub that grows wild in Baja. The leaves and stems are picked fresh when the plant is flowering, and dried to make liqueur. It is used frequently with tequila, and some say that the original margarita was made with damiana liqueur and not “that French stuff.” The best damiana liqueur is made on ranches in southern Baja, but commercial brands are becoming increasingly popular and available in large liquor stores and on the Internet. Look for the Calida Forax label, made in La Paz.
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ pounds shrimp, shells removed, tails left intact if desired, seasoned with salt and pepper
- ½ cup tequila
- 1 ½ tablespoons damiana liqueur
- 1 ½ cups shrimp broth (homemade or use commercial caldo de camarón)
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon corn starch (optional)
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan, add the shrimp and cook until just turning pink.
Add the tequila and liqueur and light them carefully. As soon as the flame has died out, add the shrimp broth and mushrooms. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook, as this will toughen the shrimp.
Dissolve cornstarch in a little water to thicken the sauce if desired. Serves 4.
Back to Baja: Some favorite dishes get a makeover