November 29, 2008

Shrimp Tostada

This is one of those dishes that you see on a menu and it seems so easy, with such simple ingredients. Well, one thing that I have learned about cooking fresh and frugal - especially in Mexican cuisine, is that the separate ingredients, if done right, each take their own bit of time and effort. This was a typical tostada stacked with wonderful layers. The first, a fresh fried tortilla, black beans, "Spanish rice", lettuce, tomatoes, shrimp, avocado, salsa and queso fresco.

First I started with the shrimp in a pan of water with bay leaves, salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, chopped onion, garlic, a little left over green pepper and carrot. I have heard that making your own stocks makes a big difference in the taste of the food. And while I do not do it on a large scale so that I have stock ready on hand, I do cook it during a meal and usually have enough for left overs. Or the left overs will make a perfect stock. I am going to play more with stocks and do a whole entry on them. Anyway...

Pan 1- the soon to be shrimp stock- had all the things listed above and about 50 pesos worth of shrimp. 50 pesos of meat is what we average for our family to stay on budget and it has worked out well. I mean, we want more meat and less pasta and rice but you also have to meet the frugal of the "fresh and frugal" ideology. So Pan 1 is going and
in... Pan 2- we have some black beans, onion, and a touch of green pepper, salt - I think that was it. I have gotten used to the idea of simply adding on hand. That has been fun.

In a 3rd pan I made some simple white rice. And fried my tortillas in my favorite only non-stick pan. Once I was done with the tortilla, I set them aside and sautéed some tomatoes, a little onion, salt and pepper and threw in some of the shrimp stock that I had sitting on the back burner. I am sure that there is a lot that goes into Spanish rice.
That is why mine had quotes! Mine was pretty simple. Anyway.
After I set the rice aside I shelled and deveined the shrimp. I threw the shells back into the stock to draw some more flavors from them.
I threw the shrimp in to my favorite non stick skillet and watched them curl like they do so nicely in the restaurants. Then it came time to refry the beans. I was not sure if I had cooked them long enough so I re fried them with some of the stock. Then it was just a matter of assembly. 1st... the tortilla, then the beans, the rice, the lettuce, tomatoes, shrimp then topped with a little avocado and queso fresco. I knew Ruben needed some heat so I added to his some salsa and some pickled veggies that were part of a to-go plate the other day. All-in -all... a very good lunch.

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