Sometimes a weeknight dinner can be luxurious. There’s no rule against that, right?
I was inspired to make this seafood guacamole – with shrimp and crab – after spending time with Roberto Santibañez’s “Truly Mexican” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).
After leafing through the office copy, I bought my own and gave it a spot on my already crowded shelf.
Santibañez’s cookbook is more than a collection of recipes. It’s a reference book when it comes to the vast array of chiles, for example. If you want a deeper knowledge of Mexican food, take it section by section and learn to make salsas, moles and adobos, and then discover how to use each of these sauces, modifying them, for a string of delicious dishes.
The chef does the same thing with guacamole. The classic dip is just a jumping-off point for more deliciousness. As he noted: “Any time an avocado is mashed and mixed with other ingredients, you can call it guacamole.” He stressed that guacamole is best made and then devoured right away so the avocado stays pretty, and the lime and herbs stay bright and lively.
I’m a guacamole fiend. So, when I found myself in that rare situation of having a couple of perfectly ripe avocados and wanting to do them justice, I reached for the book again.
For this dish, first you make a classic chunky guacamole with onion, fresh chiles, salt, cilantro and lime. Then you toss the seafood with more of those seasonings, as well as a little chipotle chile powder and orange juice.
Some of the seasoned seafood is stirred into the guacamole; the rest is scattered on top. We piled it all in a big bowl, warmed up tender corn tortillas and went to town. I suggest enjoying it with an ice cold beer and, if you want a side, try the cookbook author’s Fast Mashed Canned Black Beans (see the note below) and rice.
Santibañez recommends jumbo lump crab for the dish, but I settled for a lesser grade when I made it. It was still just a weeknight dinner, after all.
For the classic guacamole:
2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh serrano or jalapeño chile, including seeds, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 large or 2 small ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted
Fresh lime juice (optional)
For the seafood guacamole:
4 ounces crab meat, picked over
⅓ cup (3 ounces) cooked shrimp or lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided use
1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, including seeds, or more to taste
1 tablespoon mild olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotles in adobo, including sauce
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
Black beans, warmed (optional)
Rice, warmed (optional)
Make the classic guacamole: In a medium molcajete or other mortar, mash the onion, cilantro, chile and salt (the coarseness of kosher salt helps you make the paste) to a loose paste. (You also can mince and mash the ingredients together on a cutting board using the blade and then side of the blade of a large knife.) Transfer the paste to a large bowl.
Using a paring knife, score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern without cutting through the skin. Scoop out the avocado with a spoon into the mortar or bowl. Toss well and mash coarsely with a pestle or a fork. Season to taste with the lime juice (if using) and/or additional chile and salt.
Make the seafood guacamole: In a medium bowl, combine the crab, shrimp, orange juice, 2 tablespoons cilantro, fresh chile, oil, chipotle and salt and let the mixture marinate for about 15 minutes at room temperature.
Transfer the classic guacamole to a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half of the seafood into the classic guacamole and stir. Season to taste with additional salt, then, using the slotted spoon to gather it, garnish the mixture with the remaining seafood mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro.
Serve with warm corn tortillas and optional black beans and rice.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: To make Santibañez’s Fast Mashed Canned Black Beans: In a small saucepan over high heat, combine a 15-ounce can black beans, including liquid, ¼ cup water, 1 tablespoon mild olive oil, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, vigorously smashing the beans with a fork or potato masher for 2 to 3 minutes, or until most of the beans are softened.
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