Shrimp in a Charred Hatch Chile Salsa

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Hatch chile refers to varieties of species of the genus Capsicum which are grown in the Hatch Valley, an area stretching north and south along the Rio Grande from Arrey, New Mexico, in the north to Tonuco Mountain to the southeast of Hatch, New Mexico. The soil and growing conditions in the Hatch Valley create a unique terroir[22] which contributes to the flavor of chile grown there.

I have been lucky enough to get a yearly supply of these very special chilies straight from New Mexico.  They come roasted as shown here and frozen.  I use them judiciously as they are so delicious and hard to find on the east coast.

They are not very spicy even though this weekend when I made a soup with them – they were devilishly spicy. The unpredictability of heat is the case I suppose with all peppers.

I made a salsa for the shrimp which consisted of a technique that I picked up from all the Mexican guys I have worked over the years with in various New York kitchens.

The technique is quite simple but it provides the most amazing flavor for your effort.  I char the vegetables over an open flame – if you have a grill – you are lucky and should use that.

These are tomatoes and an onion – if I didn’t have the hatch chiles I would’ve thrown on a jalapeno onto the flame also. Char the vegetables till they are soft.

Once the vegetables are well charred, add them to a blender or a food processor for a more chunky result. I blended the above along with the hatch chiles by adding a little water, salt and lemon/lime juice. Blend well and adjust seasoning according to taste.

I leave most of the burnt bits on as I enjoy the smokey flavor – it is up to you – what you prefer.

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This is what you end up with.

You can stop at this stage and eat this with chips, add it as a sauce over other dishes.

I sauteed some shrimp and just as they were almost cooked, I added the above salsa and barely heated it through.

On the side I also sauteed some asparagus, flavored simply with salt and pepper.

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Here is how I served it.

Brown rice on the bottom (I happened to have left over rice – use pasta, black or red beans, white rice, etc), sauteed asparagus on the side topped with shrimp and the most delicious sauce ever 🙂

People asked me what other peppers you could use – I would say almost any pepper like jalapenos, anaheims, poblano, etc.  Feel free to add bell peppers if you don’t want to end up with a spicy sauce.

If you do nothing else, simply char your vegetables the next time you are making a sauce – you will be amazed at the depths of flavor you develop for almost no effort.

This is a very healthful dish – the only fat used was a tiny bit of oil to saute the shrimp and the asparagus.  You can eliminate that fat too by poaching the shrimp in the sauce and steaming the asparagus.

Until I cook again!

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