Camarones a la Diabla

Camarones a la Diabla

This frisky dish of shrimp (camarones) cooked in a lava-like
tomato sauce gets its name, ‘a la diabla’ – devil-style! – from
the punch packed by the many, many chillies it contains.

Chillies, native to the New World, have been cultivated in Latin America for some 6000 years, and tomatoes are also native. Garlic and onions, however, were brought to Mexico by the Spaniards in the 16th century, so the dish must have been created after this time. Though the precise origins of the a la diabla preparation are unknown, it is especially popular in the coastal regions of the Yucatan peninsula and the West Coast.

You’ll need
4 cups (1L) water
5 medium tomatoes,
2 medium red onions, peeled
and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
400g (14oz) canned chipotle
2¾ cups (700mL) ketchup
1 tsp salt
2 tbs vegetable oil
1kg (2lb) peeled shrimp

Cooking Method
1 Put the water, tomatoes, half an onion and the garlic cloves in a large pot.
2 Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes are soft.
3 Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
4 Pour the tomato mixture into a blender, adding the chillies, ketchup and salt. Blend until smooth.
5 Saute the remaining onion in a pan with the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
6 Pour the tomato sauce over the shrimp and simmer for 8 minutes.
7 Serve over rice.

Tasting notes
Imagine sitting at a beach cantina in, oh, say, the Yucatan town of Tulum or the Oaxacan coastal hamlet of Mazunte, your bare feet skimming the warm, white sand. You’re a few margaritas in when the waiter brings you a plate of camarones a la diabla – fat pink shrimp swimming in a brilliant-red sauce, its surface gleaming with butter. You tear off a piece of hot corn tortilla and scoop up a bite. The fiery kick of the chilli contrasts with the firmness of the shrimp, making your mouth water. You cool everything down with a bite of rice or frijoles refritos (refried beans) flecked with white queso fresco (fresh cheese), then go in for more fire. Devillishly good.

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