Camarones a la Criolla is not only delicious, it only takes about 10 minutes to make. What’s better, these distinctly Puerto Rican flavors meld together in a stew that is out of this world. Puerto Rico’s Criollo flavors really come through in this one, thanks to the annatto oil and ham. These two unique flavors pull the dish together in a distinctly Caribbean meal that will have them begging for more! The ham gives it that flavor that leaves people guessing.
For me, one taste of Camarones a la Criolla evokes memories of my old friend, Fernando, a little Cuban man, who arrived in the U.S. in 1968, and made his way through to the Midwest. As my high school Spanish teacher in Chicago, he took 20 or so odd-acting teenagers on annual field trips and made stops at some of his favorite restaurants, one being Borinquen Restaurant, a quaint Puerto Rican restaurant where the Camarones a la Criolla, delicious as I remember, aren’t even la especialidad.
Now, years later, I have finally perfected what I hope is a similar dish. While most Camarones a la Criolla recipes call for a bit of recaito, I used chopped onion, cilantro, and cubanelle pepper, more of a sofrito than a recaito. Maybe not perfectly traditional, but lends just the right flavors, without the 20 grocery stops to find culantro. One letter off of the more popular cilantro, but NOWHERE to be found.
If only Fernando were still here to taste it…
Camarones a la Criolla
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ tablespoon annatto oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup manzanilla olives, roughly chopped
¼ sofrito (a mixture of finely chopped onion, cilantro and cubanelle pepper)
1 small can diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
2 oz smoked ham, diced
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a medium sized soup pot add sofrito, ham, bay leaf, and olives, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce and canned tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the shrimp, and simmer until shrimp are pink. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. Remove bay leaf, and discard.
Serve with basic cooked rice to soak up the delicious sauce!
To share or print this page, click on the Share/Print button on our Wibiya bar or use this ink-saving printing tool: