food for thought

by michelle

prawns in almond sauce + mexican rice

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Nuts have been used to enrich sauces in Mexican cooking since Pre-Columbian times. Peanuts, or cacahuate, are thought to be indigenous to South America and were widely cultivated in Mexico. Almonds were introduced into the cuisine later, after the Spanish conquest in the 16th Century. This way of cooking prawns (shrimp) is quite simple and absolutely delicious.


Soak 1 dried ancho chilli in boiling water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile finely chop 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Heat some oil in a saucepan and cook the onions and garlic over low heat until soft. Peel 8 fresh tomatoes by cutting a cross in the bottom of each tomato and pouring boiling water over them. After 3 minutes the skin should peel off easily. Dice and add them to the onions. Scrape and discard the seeds in the soaked chilli, chop it roughly and add to the saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Cook for 10 minutes then place in a food processor, add ½ a cup of chicken stock and process until smooth. In a large saucepan combine the sauce with 1 cup of almond meal and ½ a cup of sour cream and stir over low heat for a few minutes. Squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon and season to taste with salt. Bring to a simmer and add 1 kg (2 lbs) of shrimp, allowing them to cook in the sauce.

Serve the prawns with this Mexican style rice.


Finely dice an onion and cook in a little corn oil until wilted. Add 1½ cups of long-grain rice and heat through, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups of hot chicken stock, 1 can of drained black beans, 1 cup of corn kernels and salt to taste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Serve garnished with fresh herbs.

And finally a Mexican vinaigrette for a fresh salad.


Combine 2 parts corn oil with 1 part white wine vinegar. Add some grated garlic, a pinch each of ground allspice (pimento) and ground bay leaf, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, some fresh thyme and salt to taste.


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