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Shrimp crêpes with chili pasilla sauce

I have been playing with savory crêpes these last few weeks, and they are providing me with an infinite gastronomic flavor palate. This is another one of those crêpe recipes that is just spectacular.

This is a contemporary Mexican dish of a very traditional recipe that highlight the wonderful Mexican Padilla chilies. They are one of the basic Mexican chilies forming the holy trinity of chili peppers with the Ancho and Guajillo. Pasillas are long, very dark, almost black, wrinkled dried peppers with a mildly acidic spicy-sweet flavor. They are generally used in moles, but can also be used stuffed. I personally love the flavor of these chilies, they add a wonderful depth to any dish. More on pasilla chilis here. Recently, pasilla chilies are being mislabeled and sold as Ancho chilies, they are very different in ever sense. The Pasillas are long, and the anchos are squat and round.

This dish highlights the full flavors of the pasilla chilies. The sauce is wonderfully smoky and flavored with a hint of heat. This is a rich dish, because of the sour cream, so if you serve it as an appetizer then follow it with a light and fresh salad. If you choose to serve it as a main, follow it with a very light dessert. This is really not a hard dish to make, but your guests will love the presentation and the flavors.

Diana Kennedy is literally the queen of Mexican cuisine. She has received has received heaps of awards, including the Order of the Aztec Eagle (big in Mexico), and a James Beard Foundation Award (big in food land). In 2002, Prince Charles visited Kennedy at her home to appoint her an MBE, for “furthering cultural relations between the UK and Mexico”. Every cookbook of hers is massive, filled with fantastic recipes and keeps me very happy in the kitchen. This is one of her early cookbooks, and one that is filled with authentic recipes and flavors.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the crêpes (makes 12-15):

1/3 cup corn flour

2/3 cup all-purpose flour (maida)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups whole or skimmed milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 lb medium or small shrimp

Salt, to taste

Lime juice

6 pasilla chilies

1 1/2 lb tomatoes

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 onion, cut

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 cup sour cream + a few dollops for garnish

1 1/2 cups Chihuahua cheese or sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cilantro, minced for garnish

To make the crêpe batter, mix all the ingredients together and whip well with a whisk. Make sure the batter is smooth, do not leave any lumps. Allow the batter to sit on the countertop for 1 hour.

To make the crêpes, heat a non-stick pan on medium flame. Brush lightly with butter. Pour 1/4 cup, or less for a smaller crêpe, of the batter into the hot pan in the center and swirl the pan around to cover the bottom of the pan with the batter. Swirl slowly to get an even thin layer without holes. Cook or about 1-1 1/2 minutes at which time the bottom and edges will be lightly golden and the edges will release from the pan surface. Flip and cook for an additional minute. Remove on paper towels, layering a paper towel between each crêpe so they do not stick to each other. The crêpes can be made ahead and kept sealed in a Tupperware container or wrapped with cling wrap so they do not dry out and get brittle.d in abok or with cling wrap so they do not dry out and get brittle.

To cook the shrimp, mix them with the salt and lime juice and add them to a oven safe pyrex dish. Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes till cooked through. Alternatively, you can pan sauté them till cooked.

Set the oven on broil mode.

To make the pasilla sauce, broil the tomatoes in a single layer in the oven for 20-25 minutes till the tomatoes are charred on the outside and cooked all the way through. Turn the tomatoes 1-2 times during broiling to cook all the sides evenly. Remove and cool.

While the tomatoes are cooling, toast the pasilla chilies on a pan till colored and toasted. Cool and remove the seeds and veins, or the sauce will get too spicy.

Add the pasilla chilies, cooled tomatoes, onion, salt and sugar to a small blender and purée till smooth.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the chili-tomato paste. Cook on a low flame till the sauce smells aromatic and has thickened, about 12-15 minutes. Stir frequently as the sauce will tend to stick to the bottom of the pan. Taste for salt. Careful, this sauce will splatter and stain everything, including your clothes.

When the sauce is ready, take off the heat and add the sour cream and mix in. The sour cream will dissolve into the sauce. Do not heat the sour cream, it will curdle.

To assemble the crêpes, take about 1/4 of the pasilla sauce and mix in with the shrimp. Lay a crêpe on a flat surface and add 1/8 the shrimp to the center of the crêpe. Roll up and lay into a Pyrex dish. repeat with the remaining crêpes packing in the Pyrex dish tightly with the crêpes. Layer the rest of the sauce onto the crêpes in an even layer, tucking some sauce into the sides. Grate some of the cheese on top and add dollops of the sour cream to the corners of the dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

Bake the dish for 15-17 minutes till the cheese on top has melted and the dish is bubbling. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro.

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