CONSOMME DE CAMARON : Sinaloan Dried Shrimp Broth
In seafood restaurants along the Pacific coast, little cups of hot soup are often served as a free appetizer along with packaged corn tostadas and an array of bottled hot sauces. The rich flavor of this potent broth comes from dried shrimp and plenty of chiles. If diluted, this broth forms an excellent base for Caldo de Camarones. Serve with a bucket of Pacifico beers on ice.
SERVES 4 to 6
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
4 to 6 whole chiles de árbol
¼ cup diced white onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
8 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 ounces cleaned dried shrimp (see Note)
2 large sprigs fresh epazote
In a 10-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Tear all the chiles into small pieces and add to the skillet, using 4 chiles de árbol for a milder dish, or up to 6 for a spicer one. Cook, stirring, until the chiles begin to color, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is pale gold and the tomatoes are soft and dry, about 7 minutes. Add 3 cups of the water and simmer until the pan is almost dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine the puree with the remaining 5 cups water, the salt, and dried shrimp. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Add the epazote, cover, and cook 30 minutes more.
To serve, strain the broth and discard the shrimp and epazote. Serve very hot with the lime wedges and tostadas on the side.
Dried shrimp are sold in packages, usually with the heads and shells on but sometimes already cleaned. If you buy head-on shrimp, you’ll need to buy twice as much and remove the heads and shells before adding them to the soup. I do not recommend using dried ground shrimp.