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Saturday, March 11, 2017

                                         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                                    Shrimp
                                                    by 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
  • Tostadas
  • Quesadillas
  • 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

                         The Garnishes
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:

  • Avocado
  • Limes
  • Cilantro
  • Onion (white only, please)
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage
  • Radishes
  • 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 and
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.

Green posole:
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)

Garlic-lime shrimp:
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
Cilantro, chopped
1/2 avocado per serving, or a bowl of cubed or sliced avocado
Dried oregano
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


jennifer rose said...

40 lashes with a wet noodle for uttering "canned hominy." Preparing the real thing isn't that hard, at least in a small quantity. You wouldn't have suggested using canned shrimp, would you? Of course, not.

BTW, shredded very young chard and minced celery make great garnishes, too. And breaking the custom, I've tried arugula, mizuna, and Japanese red mustard with delish results, too.

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Ahhh, Jennifer, you are so right. I wouldn't used canned hominy, of course. But a lot of my readers, especially those from Australia might not have access to anything else.

Eha said...

Oh what a delightful gift to find in the letterbox on a Sunday morning! Vicki - I love it when you present Mexican dishes especially with explanations . . . and thank you so much for thinking of all of us in Australia! A hugely interesting dish I have not had . . . now corn is far from being my favourite vegetable and I have never had hominy or grits or whatever version . . . But looking at this will go 'hunting' next journey into town . . . Mexican having become quite popular here during the past decade, Lordie knows what I'll find :) ! Shall let you know. Oh, methinks I'd rather use prawn shells to make the 'clam juice' anyways . . . . looking forwards to the 'whole' dish but meanwhile shall try your prawns . . . they are already asittin' at home :) !!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This came at the perfect time Victoria! A friend gave me a bag of grits and it's enormous and I'm not quite sure what to do with it! Then along came this post! :D

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I've made both red and green pozole but never one with shrimp like your beautiful dish. I'll definitely be trying it, it sounds great.

Michael Dickson said...

I've lived in Mexico almost 18 years now, and I've never seen it spelled posole, not once. Always with a z. Maybe it's a regional thing. My wife (Mexican) makes a killer pozole, usually green. Never seen it anywhere with shrimp. Sounds like a good idea. Shrimp, like limón, improves the taste of everything.

I always avoid pozole in restaurants. Usually too greasy and/or grisly for my druthers, especially the white versions.

But at home, oh, mama! My wife's pozole is not just tasty but healthy.

Hotly Spiced said...

I love Mexican cuisine and it's now the most common cuisine served in families. Not the sort of cuisine you're serving but those taco, burrito, tortilla packs you can buy at the supermarket. Apparently, that's what most families are eating these days. Your prawn dish looks very tasty xx

GRSshoes said...

woow so delicious food....

Hotly Spiced said...

The purple flowers are stunning. I'm so glad you explained what posole is because I was just reading a blog where there was a recipe that had posole as its main ingredient and I had no idea what it was. She said you can buy it frozen but I'm quite sure I've never seen or heard of it here in Oz. I'm going to google to see if it's available. It looks like you can create wonderful Mexican-inspired dishes from this ingredient xx

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Vanessa Gordon said...

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