Main Dishes Mexico: Food and Traditions — By Guest Blogger on 05 May 2008
Camarones al Mojo de Ajo for Cinco de Mayo

Because today is cinco de mayo I wanted to write a little bit about this date for What’s Cooking, World? Not everyday I have the opportunity to ramble about one of my favorite topics, history. So please bear with me while I try to explain why cinco de mayo is such an important date for Mexico and the United States. I promise there is a delicious recipe at the end of the post.

Cinco de Mayo
by Ben

Like I have mentioned before, I love history. Today is a very special day in Mexican history because 146 years ago the Mexican army and a handful of untrained indigenous warriors armed only with machetes defeated the most powerful army on earth at the time, Napoleon III’s army, in the battle of Puebla. However, in Mexico this date is not an official holiday, only in the state of Puebla. Maybe because the French eventually came back with more troops, took over the country and placed Maximiliano I, an Austrian, as emperor of Mexico. Some historians have declared that Maximiliano deeply cared for Mexico and all its people (not only the rich and European descendants), but that is not a discussion for this post.

So, why is cinco de mayo such a big deal in the U.S? There are a couple of theories. One is that the general that led the Mexican forces to victory, Ignacio Zaragoza, was born in Texas when it was still part of Mexico making it a big feat for Texans (then part of the Confederate States of America) Others claim that because Napoleon was aiming to establish a route through Mexico to supply the Confederate army with weapons and soldiers in the Civil War, that single defeat in Puebla held up Napoleon’s plans for a whole year allowing the Union States to build the biggest army the world had seen and defeat the Confederate States.

I think the second theory is more accurate because after the the Civil War the United States supplied Benito Juarez and his government in the run with weapons and men to counterattack the invading power. Eventually that help and the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico to prepare for Prussia’s growing threat in Europe were key factors to defeat Maximiliano and the Mexican conservative traitor elite by the Mexican Republicans. That single battle on May 5th, 1862 changed the course of the whole North American continent. And that is something to celebrate.

But enough of history lessons. I am sure my nerdiness is boring you. To celebrate this cinco de mayo I decided to make a dish that is very typical in the states along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, camarones al mojo de ajo. I, however, changed the recipe because the original one calls for tons of butter and frying and I am still struggling with my diet. This is my “light” version of mojo de ajo.

Camarones al mojo de ajo
Makes 2-3 servings

For this recipe you will need:

  • 30-40 shrimp, deveined, raw, headless, shell-on
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 garlic heads
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1-2 chipotle adobado peppers
  • Cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Preparation:

  1. In a food processor mince garlic (all of it) and chipotle adobado peppers. Add the lime juice
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet. Add butter and fry the garlic in it until it starts turning brown. Be careful not to burn it. It is not a pretty sight (don’t ask me how I know)
  3. Add shrimp and cook until it turns pink/red.
  4. Serve over white rice or pasta and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

About this recipe:

  • The original recipe calls for frying of the garlic in oil and then in 1 cup of butter. That is just too much for me.
  • If you wish, you can grill the shrimp. In that case marinate the shrimp in the garlic butter overnight. Then put the shrimp in skewers and cook on the grill with the lid on.

I hope you liked this cinco de mayo history lesson and this classic Mexican dish perfect for a cinco de mayo party with lots of Margaritas and señoritas (and muchachos).

Buen Provecho!

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is a project to learn more about foods and customs from all over the world. If you would like to participate in this fun and interesting project just leave a comment on this post and I will contact you as soon as I can.

(23) Readers Comments

  1. Yummmm!!!! I like how you have cooked those juicy shrimps! The marinade is KEY isn’t it! Love those limes too…

  2. I recreated the dish! Thank you, it was wonderful. However, I tried that link for chipotle peppers and got no where really fast. By the way, I noticed the cans that I bought directly from Mexico have chipotle spelled chiLpotle. Maybe you can tell us why?

    A better link for the chipotle peppers would have been http://mexicoetal.com/Chili-Peppers/Chipotle-Chipotles-Chipotle-Peppers/View-all-products.html?Treeid=25 however, I’m biased as they also had the cheapest shipping to me (Lima, Peru).

  3. Yum! This is exactly what we'll make on Cinco de Mayo. I love chipotle chiles and would be inclined to add a little more except that my partner is a real yankee wuss and is scared of hot food. As a native born and raised in Texas, Cinco de Mayo has always been celebrated in my household. The shrimp will be perfect. Thanks!

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