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A Good Friday

I don’t know why they say you can’t be in two places at once. I do it all the time. Last night, for instance, I was both having a quiet night in Miami and on the corner Clinton and Degraw in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, waiting for the Good Friday procession from Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen’s Church.

It was always the same. The sun would go down, and my neighbors would pour out of their brownstones to watch it pass, wether or not they were part of the parish, or even Catholic for that matter. Those who weren’t always had a slightly dazed appreciation, a nervous smile, as we all waited for the visitation. It could be overwhelming for me too. First you’d hear the steady drumming, then you’d see the officers of the church in full regalia, then a wounded Christ. But nothing prepared you for the long rows of Italian mothers in full-mourning, reciting the rosary, followed by a life-size statue of the Virgin Mary – Our Lady of Sorrows floating above the crowd.

I’m still not sure why but I decided to follow the procession that last year in Brooklyn – over Degraw to Henry where the men from the social clubs hurried out to fill the collection boxes with cash and up to Summit Street where a prayer service was given in Italian – lovely and unintelligable – at least to me. Making my way back to my apartment that night, I realized it was the first time my neighbors hadn’t come out to meet the procession, unless of course they were there, and I just couldn’t see them anymore. A few months later, I’d decided to leave New York.

That last Easter, I’d spent that day planning a Good Friday post about this chupe de camarones recipe that never happened – recipe dutifully listed below. I made it again this week under a different sky but with the same feeling.

Chupe de Camarones
Reprinted with permission from Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen Copyright © 2013 by Martin Morales. Photographs copyright © 2013 by Paul Winch-Furness. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

1⅓ pounds/600 g raw shell-on shrimp
4½ cups/1 liter Shellfish Stock (see below), made using the heads and shells from the shrimp
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons amarillo chile paste, or 2 tablespoons tomato purée and 1 red chile, finely chopped
2 tomatoes peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried), plus extra for garnish
4½/50 g tablespoons long-grain white rice
1 large floury potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 ear ripe choclo or other corn kernels cut from the cob
7 tablespoons/100ml half-and-half or evaporated milk
2/3 cup/100 g shelled green peas
4 eggs
1¾ ounces/50 g queso fresco (see below) or feta cheese, diced
4 large cooked shell-on shrimp, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the raw shrimp. Removed their heads and shells and use them to make the Shellfish Stock as instructed. Devein the shrimp and chill until needed.

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute. Next add the chile paste and sauté until the oil and paste start to separate.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, freshly made stock, and rice. Bring to a boil and simmer for about about 5 minutes. Add the potato cubes and choclo and simmer for 20 minutes. The starch released from the rice and potato should start to thicken the soup.

Check the soup to test that the rice, potato, and choclo are cooked. Add the raw shelled shrimp, half-and-half, and peas and keep simmering for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs in a saucepan of simmering water or in an egg poacher.

Season soup with salt and pepper to taste and add cheese. Ladle into individual bowls and top each bowl with a freshly poached egg, a cooked shell-on shrimp, and a sprinkling of oregano, and serve immediately.

Note: Evaporated milk is often used instead of half-and-half, as it ads a sweeter flavor.

Shellfish Stock
7 ounces/200 g rinsed fish trimmings or reserved heads and shells of shrimp
1 diced leek
1 diced white onion
1 diced celery stalk
½ diced fennel bulb
3½ tablespoons/50 ml white wine
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 thyme sprig
2 bay leaves
4½ cups/1 liter cold water

Sauté the heads and shells of shrimp in olive oil in a large saucepan. Add teh rest of the ingredients and cover. For added flavor, use fish stock instead of water. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to very low and continue to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid. Makes about 4½ cups/1 liter.

Queso Fresco
10½/2.5 liters whole milk (raw if you can get it)
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice

Put the milk and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down the heat as low as possible. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and start stirring; the milk will start separating into curds and whey. Keep stirring, and if it looks as though it needs a bit more help to separate, add another tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice.

Line a sieve or colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Strain the separated milk through the sieve and leave to stand for around 10 minutes. Bring the sides of the cloth together and squeeze very gently. The curds should have formed a solid mass of cheese.

The cheese is ready to eat from this point onward. If you would like a firmer, drier texture, you can wrap it up in the cloth and place it in the fridge with a weight of some sort over it for around an hour. The cheese will be fin the fridge for 10 to 15 days. Makes 9 to 10½ oz/250 to 300g.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Absolutely! Heads if you can find them, but as long as you have a good heap of shells, go for it.

    30 May 2017

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