This is one of my dad’s favorite meals: It’s called picante de camarones, or spicy shrimp, and it’s a traditional Peruvian seafood dish imbued with racy ají colorado, garlic, and onions. The sauce — a compilation of butter, white wine, heavy cream is what gives the shrimp their sexy luster and appeal.
Typically served over rice, picante de camarones can look strikingly similar to a Creole étouffée with it’s bold flavors and shellfish allegiance. This Peruvian iteration however, almost always comes with a side of boiled potatoes and sliced, hard boiled eggs. Because just when you think you have enough of a good thing, we give you more. Peruvians are gluttons for immoderation (but I think you already knew that).
I left the shells on to intensify the sauce as it cooked but if you’re opposed to peeling the skins while you eat and can’t harbor the thought of licking all that glorious shrimp juice dripping down your fingers at the table, then…I suppose you can disrobe them prior but that’s like really un-fun and I think I’d have to disown you for a minute.
At it’s best, this should be served and devoured as soon as the shrimp turn a bright vermilion and the sauce a luscious pond of spicy, creamy broth. Grab a mess of paper towels, drink a glass of crisp white. Get dirty dirty.
Rinse the shrimp under cool running water and leave to drain.
Grab your butter out of the fridge and put 2 tablespoons of it into a large fry pan. Put the remaining 1 tablespoon into a small bowl and let it come to room temperature and soften. When you’re able to easily smash it with a fork, mix in 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour until a loose, crumbly dough forms. You’ve made a beurre manié! Set this aside, you’ll use it to thicken and finish the sauce later.
Return to your fry pan with the butter in it and turn up the heat to medium-high. Once the butter has melted, toss in the slivered onions and let this soften and cook down for a bit, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the chopped garlic, ají colorado, and salt and pepper to taste. Give everything a stir and continue to cook until the garlic is fragrant and the ají colorado has coated the onion mixture, about 2-3 minutes, depending if your ají colorado is frozen or not.
Pour in the white wine and water and let this come to a bubble for a minute, to cook off the alcohol and reduce slightly. Tumble in the shrimp, give it a toss to coat, and then put a lid on it, reducing the heat to medium, and cooking until the shrimp have just turned a bright red, approx 5-6 minutes.
Dribble in the cream, give it a stir and let it warm through for a few seconds. Lastly, add the beurre manié, the butter-flour mixture you made earlier, to the sauce, using a small whisk to incorporate it in, weaving in and around the shrimp and onions, until the sauce has thickened slightly and is velvety smooth, about a couple minutes to enrich properly.
Sprinkle in some freshly chopped cilantro, give it another toss and serve at once over perfectly puffed white rice, boiled taters and hard boiled eggs.
// Serves 2 hungry lovers