Saturday, January 16, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico -- Something Good To Eat

Traditional Mexican Christmas Dishes – Romeritos


Cindi Bower

Romeritos are leaves that resemble rosemary (romeritos means “little rosemary”) and come from an evergreen shrub. They can be used as a flavoring for various meat and seafood dishes or can be the basis for a dish traditionally served during the Christmas holidays as well as during Lent.

Every year, many Mexicans gather the seeds from plants found in the wild and plant the seeds in their gardens to grow their own romeritos. Don’t worry if you can’t grow romeritos yourself. They are available in local markets as well as supermarkets in Mexico. They may be available in the produce section of the supermarket in your area.

Other names for romeritos are ink weed and iodine weed. Romeritos taste and look like spinach. If you can’t find romeritos, you can substitute spinach in the recipe below.

Here is a simple recipe for Romeritos con Tortitas de Camarón (Romeritos with Shrimp Cakes):


Serves 8-10

2 pounds romeritos or spinach
1 ½ cups mole paste*
4 cups chicken broth
6 nopal (cactus) paddles **
3 large white or yellow boiling potatoes
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon baking soda
Salt, to taste

* Look for jars or boxes of mole paste in the Mexican/international food aisle in your supermarket. You can also buy it fresh in Mexican markets.

** These should be available in the produce section of your supermarket. They should have the spines removed already.

Pick any dry leaves from the romeritos and wash thoroughly. Bring a medium-sized pot of water, to which you’ve added a pinch or two of salt, to a boil. Add the romeritos or spinach and cook until limp (about 2 minutes if using romeritos; just a few seconds if using spinach). Drain and squeeze out the excess water.

Meanwhile, bring another medium-sized pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the nopales, garlic and baking soda. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and chop.

Put potatoes into a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add two large pinches of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, peel and cut into squares.

Mix the mole paste and the chicken broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the cooked romeritos, nopales, potatoes and shrimp cakes (recipe follows) and bring to a boil. Allow to boil until heated through. Serve.

Tortitas de camarón

3 eggs
4 tablespoons dried shrimp, ground
Oil, as needed for frying

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in the beaten yolks and the ground shrimp. Mix well. Heat the oil in a skillet until hot, but not smoking. Drop spoonfuls of the egg-shrimp mixture into the hot oil and fry until slightly browned, about 1 ½ minutes per side. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

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