Green Posole with Garlic-Lime Shrimp
Note: Please forgive. My "centering" button isn't functioning for some reason and when I do it by hand, it seems not to translate, coming out crooked and weird.
Green Posole (Pozole) with Garlic-Lime Shrimpby Victoria Challancin
The delights of Mexican cooking are seemingly endless to me, but one dish that holds a firm hold in my heart is posole (also pozole). The word posole simply means "hominy," which is dried corn that has been soaked in an alkaline mineral lime solution, which softens the kernels and loosens the hulls. But posole also refers to a rich stew made from the hominy that is served throughout Mexico, varying in style and color from region to region, home to home.
Small restaurants, called posolerias (yes, also pozolerias) can be found all over Mexico. (One of my favorites is in the city of Oaxaca, which when I first discovered it, changed my eating life forever--I have also sought out similar places whenever possible and have never been disappointed, but I digress). The only dish served in these specialty restaurants is, of course, posole--usually in all three flavors: red, green, and white.
Before I give you this startlingly delicious recipe, let me give you a little background, because, Dear Readers, you know that is what I do!
What is Hominy, Anyway?
Simply put, hominy is simply dried corn that has been soaked in an alkaline solution, which, as I said above, loosens the hulls from the kernels and also softens the kernels themselves. In Mexico, this process is called nixtamalization, or nixtamal (a process that has been around for thousands of years), and is usually accomplished by using a solutions of calcium hydroxide, or cal. My own grandmother slaked her own corn using an alkaline mix of water and wood ash. However it is done, it produces an ingredient that is indispensable in the cooking of Mexico; without it, we wouldn't have corn tortillas or any of the other delicious dishes made with corn masa, the dough made from the treated corn which is mixed with water.
Why is hominy so healthy? The process of nixtamalizing the corn makes the nutrient niacin more easily assimilated by the digestive tract, rendering it more nutritious.
How is Hominy Used?
- To make corn tortillas
- To make tamales
- To make atole, a thick drink made from ground nixtamalized corn with milk or water and the addition of chocolate, vanilla, pilloncillo (unrefined sugar) and other flavors
- To make posole, a rich stew made of pork, chicken, or seafood
- To make grits, that Southern dish dear to my heart
- To make a variety of Mexican antojitos, or little cravings, most of which are made from corn
- Corn tortilla tacos
- Chalupas, sopes, gorditas, and on and on--so many delicious corn-based dishes to choose from here in Mexico
What is Posole, the dish?
Basically, posole is a stew made from hominy, which can be based on chicken, pork, or seafood--or a combination. It is often served at celebrations in Mexico.
There are three main types:
- Posole verde--this green version could contain tomatillos, epazote, cilantro, green chiles, and green pumpkin seeds
- Posole rojo--the type of posole most popular here in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, where I live, is made from one or several dried red chiles, such as guajillo, piquin, or ancho.
- Posole verde--(my favorite) is made without any additional red or green sauce
The marinating Garlic-Lime Shrimp
One of the joys of eating this stew is the plate of garnishes that accompanies it. There are regional variations, but a common selection of ingredients would be:
- Onion (white only, please)
- Shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage
- Tostadas or pork rind
- Sour cream (occasionally served to spread on the tostada)
- Dried oregano, a must
- Finely diced serrano or jalapeño chile (not in the picture, but we did use it)
My garnishes from l to r: tostadas, cilantro, onion, iceberg lettuce, dried oregano, radishes, lime, and avocado
About this Recipe
What caught my eye with this recipe is marinating and cooking of the shrimp apart from the basic soup/stew. It is so easy to overcook shrimp, I knew I would love this technique, and I did. The result of the separate cooking of the shrimp and the addition of some of the uncooked chile/tomatillo mixture yielded a bright, fresh flavor. Utterly delicious.
A bowl of the finished dish
Another bowl of yum, using local Mexican ceramics
Recipe: Green Posole with Garlic-Lime Shrimp
(Recipe inspired by and adapted from ahappyfooddance.com and epicurious.com)
Serves 4 to 6
Cooks notes: I played with both of the versions mentioned here and came up with this. Canned hominy is probably already soft and may just need heating (I have never used it and don't really know). In class we used a plastic pouch of pre-cooked hominy that still needed to be cooked for at least a half an hour. Regardless of the type you use, the result will be chewy with a slightly nutty flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped (white onion would be more authentic)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided
8-10 medium tomatillos (a little over a pound), husks removed and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed (or a prepared pouch of pre-cooked hominy)
4 cups chicken broth
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice (optional, as I can't find it here; instead, I tossed a few of the shrimp shells in the chicken broth and simmered it for 5 to 10 minutes)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, whole
½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
16-20 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (500g)
1 lime, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
Radishes, trimmed and sliced thin
1/2 avocado per serving, or a bowl of cubed or sliced avocado
Iceberg lettuce, sliced thin
Chopped red or white onion
lime wedges, for serving
To prepare green posole: In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, and half of the serrano chiles, stirring occasionally until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
While the garlic, shallot and chilies are cooking, puree the tomatillos in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Add half of the tomatillo puree to the garlic mixture and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has started to thicken, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 1 cup cilantro to food processor or blender and puree until smooth, set aside.
Add the hominy, chicken broth and/or clam juice to the pot and bring to a simmer. Gently cook over medium-low heat for about 8-10 minutes (this will depend on the type of hominy used).
Remove from heat and stir in the remaining tomatillo-cilantro puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare garlic lime shrimp: While the soup is simmering, in a large skillet over medium heat, add oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. As soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, add shrimp.
Let shrimp cool about 90 seconds and then flip, add lime juice and cilantro. Cook just until shrimp are cooked throughout, about 90 more seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble: Divide soup among bowls and top with radishes, cilantro, remaining chile and garlic lime shrimp. Serve with desired garnishes.
Parting Shot: A Purple, Feathery Catrina
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México