Camarones ala Diabla is served at many Mexican restaurants. The name of the dish translates to Shrimp of the Devil. The evocative name of the dish might entice you try it or it might make you afraid of the spicy heat that it promises to bring. I have had Camarones ala Diabla at many restaurants and I have yet to find one that truly brings the heat I want.
My tolerance for spicy food is higher than most people tolerate and I understand that restaurants cater to the general public so, when I order Camarones ala Diabla I usually tell the waiter, “muy picante, por favor”, or “mas picante”. Sadly, that usually results in more sauce, rather than a spicier sauce.
The way I see it, if you’re going to evoke the “devil” in the name of a dish you sell, you should be prepared to deliver the devilish fires of hell. Don’t hold back! I want something that sizzles and stings! ¡Yo quiero picante!
When you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself!
My favorite local seafood vendor, Porter Seafood, rolled into town this weekend and I stopped by to pick up 3 pounds of fresh gulf shrimp. $8.00 per pound might seem a little pricey, but it’s worth it. Whole jumbo shrimp, fresh from the gulf, is a real treat. I nearly cried for joy when I opened the bag and saw these big beauties!
Camarones ala Diabla is not very difficult to make. All you need are fresh, jumbo shrimp and a wickedly spicy chile sauce.
My recipe includes more chile de arbol than what most recipes call for and a few whole, crispy, fried jumbo shrimp, to top the dish. Yes, the whole shrimp are meant to be eaten! Whole, fried shrimp is a delicacy and it’s something that most Americans shy away from. I won’t go into the experience of eating them whole except to say that they offer rich flavor, a wide range of textures and they look absolutely awesome! If you’re even a little curious about trying whole, fried shrimp you should do it. If the thought of eating a whole shrimp turns you off, don’t do it, but understand that you are missing a sensation that is worth overcoming the initial visual shock.
8 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
8 dried chile de arbol chiles, stems removed (for a milder version, use 3 chile de arbol)
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp coarse salt
2 Tbs sesame seeds, or dried, crushed pumpkin seeds, (optional)
2 dried allspice berries, crushed (optional)
3 Tbs olive oil
1.5 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Reserve 3 whole, raw jumbo shrimp (do not remove heads, tails or shells)
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
2 cups cooking oil
Sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds (semillas de sésamo o semillas de calabaza) add an earthy element to the sauce and the allspice berries (bayas de pimienta) add exotic flavor. The recipe is fine without these but so much better when they are added.
Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Chile de arbol are small and it’s not easy to remove the seeds. Don’t spend too much time trying. The seeds will be removed when the sauce is strained.
Steam the chiles in a covered pan or pot, filled with water. Boil the water, add the chiles, turn off the heat, cover and wait 30 minutes.
While the chiles steam, prepare the vegetables for the sauce.
Chop the tomatoes, garlic and onion. Add these to a blender. Add the salt, sesame seeds and crushed allspice to the blender.
After the chiles have steamed, carefully remove them from the water and place them in the blender.
Blend at high speed until pureed.
Strain the sauce and discard the pulp. This should leave about two cups of smooth sauce. Reserve until needed.
Rinse the 3 whole shrimp under clear, cool water. Set aside to air-dry on a plate.
Mix the milk, flour and egg in a bowl. This will be used to dredge the whole shrimp. Set aside for now.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the peeled, raw shrimp. Sautee for a few minutes, until the shrimp turn pink. Do not cook for more than a few minutes, to avoid over cooking.
Remove the shrimp and set aside.
Add the sauce to the pan. Once the sauce is bubbling hot, return the shrimp to the pan and stir for a minute. Remove to a serving platter and keep warm.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups of cooking oil.
Once the oil is hot (350°), dredge the whole shrimp, one at a time, in the milk, flour and egg batter. Carefully lay the shrimp into the hot oil, one at a time. Fry the shrimp for one minute and then turn them over to fry on the other side for two minutes. Turn once more and fry for another minute.
Sorry, no pictures of this. I was having too much fun!
Carefully remove the shrimp and lay them across the top of the Camarones ala Diabla.
Serve with the usual Mexican fare…tortillas, lime wedges, rice and beans…
Aye, caramba! ¡Necesito una cerveza fría!
Don’t forget the cold beer!