Shrimp with Vanilla Beurre Blanc on Cardamom-Coconut Rice and Mariachis!
by Victoria Challancin
For those of you who don't live in Mexico, the thought of vanilla with seafood might seem odd. Odd, indeed! But over time, given that vanilla originated in the jungles near Veracruz, Mexico, and the fact that Mexico has well over 9000 km of coastline...well, the marriage of the two seems inevitable here, and it is no wonder it found its way to the world of alta cocina, or the haute cuisine of my adapted home. And what a lovely coupling it is! Vanilla lends a spicy nuance, a hint of mystery, a note of exotica to almost any dish it enhances, but the sheer beauty of it sings when paired with wine and butter as it is in this dish.
Cook's Notes: I decided to double up on the amount of tomato, which in retrospect was a mistake, as it soaked up a bit too much of the beurre blanc. A tablespoon would have been just right. In fact, the next time I make this, I will double the amount of the beurre blanc instead!
Shrimp with Vanilla Beurre Blanc on Cardamom-Coconut Rice
(Recipe from McCormick’s Gourmet Kitchen)
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 8 (1 tablespoon) pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 (3-inch) piece of whole vanila bean
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded plum tomato
12 jumbo (16 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, leaving tails on
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
for the Vanilla Beurre Blanc, melt 1
tablespoon of the butter in small saucepan on medium heat. Add shallots; cook
and stir 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in wine and sea salt. Split vanilla
bean in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat
to low; simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in cream.
Return to simmer. Gradually add remaining cold butter, 1 tablespoon at a time,
whisking to form a creamy sauce. Stir in tomatoes
For the Cardamom Coconut Rice, bring
coconut milk, water, cardamom and sea salt to boil in medium saucepan, stirring
occasionally. Stir in rice. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or
until rice is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking.
Fluff rice with fork. Add green onions; toss gently to mix. Set aside, keeping
For the Shrimp, season shrimp with sea salt and pepper. Melt butter in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook and stir 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.
Influenced by both polkas and waltzes, mariachi groups now include such instruments as the violin, guitar, harp, woodwinds, trumpet, guitarrón and the high-pitched vihuela, round-backed guitar which provides rhythm, although in the beginning, only string instruments were used. Originally a form of folk music called Son Jaliscience, designating its origins near Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, this regional style of music migrated from the countryside to the urban centers of Guadalajara and Mexico City as workers began flocking to the cities in the early 1900s looking for work. What began as a local gathering of musicians/farmworkers, evolved into a sophisticated collection of talented musicians who became an essential part of the national identity.
Eventually, the evolution even included the gradual changing of its name to mariachi. The name mariachi itself is thought to have derived from the French word marriage, dating from the 1860s when French influence in Mexico was at its height. Other stories claim it comes from the name of an indigenous tree—or possibly from a local persona called “Maria H,” which would be pronounced Mari-Ache. Whatever the provenance of the name and the music, both are firmly planted now in the consciousness of the nation. As a regional folk music from Jalisco, or possibly even Colima, Nayarit and even Michoacán, it has been transformed over time into a national phenomenon, a popular treat for all at family celebrations, political events, and restaurants, a part of the national identity and a mark of great pride.
On this occasion, the 65th birthday of our close friend, his staff hired the mariachis as a surprise to play poolside at a small gathering of friends who gathered at his house to celebrate his birthday. What started out as a festive display of familiar Mexican tunes which were familiar to all, slowly evolved into a touching serenade of haunting melodies, which strummed gently at my heart as the musicians paid tribute to a loving man and dear friend.
And what birthday party would be complete without...
A violin solo...
Handblown Mexican glasses...
And a birthday cake...
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School and Travel
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