Monday, February 22, 2010

Old garlic and camarones (shrimp) al mojo de ajo

As I understand, some Asian religions abstain from eating garlic and onions because they are considered too stimulating and passion-inducing, which thereby destroys the balance required for happiness.  Fortunately for me, I'm not Buddhist, so I cook a bunch of food with garlic and onion.  Sometimes, I even get crazy and add BOTH to a dish!  Go figure.
One thing I've heard cooks talk about is removing the green growth from garlic.  Have you ever tried to plant a clove in garlic in the ground to see what would happen?  Sure enough it grows.  The green is supposed to be bitter and a little difficult to digest.  I've never had much of a problem with it, but what the heck, remove it, it's easy enough, and represents yet another reason you don't want or need a garlic press.

From Drop Box
You can split whole cloves in half, and if they're old enough, you'll have some green sprouts in them. Simply remove them, and mince your garlic. The result stands to be not as bitter as you might normally encounter.

From Drop Box
From there, a recipe for Mexican style mojo de ajo, which roughly translated means smothered in garlic. This is one to try if you're worried about vampires invading your neighborhood because it's really garlicky.  It's really difficult, so pay close attention....

10-12 cloves of minced garlic
Olive oil, about 4:1 oil to garlic by volume
optional:  hot chile pepper or 2 (I added a couple of chipotles)

Put on the stove on super-low, and let it simmer until the garlic is barely brown, maybe a couple of hours. What have you made?

Infused oil and minced garlic confit (kohn-FEE).  Alternatively, you could just cut the fuzzy part of a whole head of garlic off, stick it in foil with some olive oil, and throw it in the oven while you're cooking something else, and you've got whole clove garlic confit, just like the stuff from the olive bar at the grocery store.  It's great stuff to have around, and a good way to make use of bulk garlic.  I can hardly use all the stuff up before it starts growing or goes bad.

From Drop Box
Strain the solids out of the oil. Use the oil to sautee your shrimp (or poach at 180-200F if you really want to be awesome), and serve with fresh salsa, tortillas, pouring the garlic on top of the shrimp.  If you've never had it, and you like garlic, you'll love it!

OK, so it wasn't that difficult, and really very little of it is when you apply a couple of basic techniques and plan appropriately.

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