Cooking Like A Mexican

January 23, 2017

Ensenada is one of the oldest municipalities of Baja California, and the largest municipality in the world when it comes to territorial or land extension. Its huge rural zone stands out because of the quality of its products, which are of exportation quality. Ensenada's economy is based on tourism, fishing, agriculture and industry.

It is a very important port which exports all kinds of sea products to these countries.

The seafood of Ensenada is known worldwide as some of the best for its freshness and high quality. Clams, shrimp, oysters, scallops, lobster, octopus and a great variety of fish are all available in the area.

Before the Spaniards arrived to this Mexican territory, the first people who lived in that area were the Yumanos who were subdivided in five different tribes: Cucapás, Kiliwas, Kumai, Papais and Cochimies. All of them were extremely peaceful people.

In 1542, the Ensenada bay was first sighted by Spaniards and they called it San Mateo. Years later in 1602, it was renamed Todos Santos Bay (nothing to do with the Todos Santos you know and love). It might be hard to believe, but in the beginning Ensenada was a ranch, bought by the sergeant Francisco Gastelum. This last name is still very common in Ensenada.

With Mexican Independence, the first political law was signed and Ensenada became the Federal territory of Las Californias. Ensenada´s status changed a couple more times until 1952, after the legal constitution of Baja California as a Mexican State, and it became to be one of the four municipalities: Mexicali, Tecate, Tijuana, and a very prosperous city, with a very superior richness when compared to other states of the Mexican Republic.

Today, this city is kind of emblematic. It has the biggest wine producer land in the whole country and is known specifically as the cradle of great cooks and chefs. Surrounded by the richest ocean full of different species, it is a dream come true for Mexican cooks and chefs. This city is where the valleys, the vineyards and the ocean come together, giving Ensenada's cuisine worldwide recognition.

The market where the cooks can find all their treasures and ingredients is called El Mercado Negro (the black market). But to be honest, I couldn't find why it is called like this, but it has nothing to do with illegal products.

Today’s recipe is from Ensenada, from a restaurant named La Manzanilla. This recipe is not ancient, but still has the essence of a 100% Mexican dish.

I am not sure how to translate the name of this recipe, because these are meat balls but they are not made from meat. They are made from shrimp, so maybe shrimp balls? That sounds almost like a very brave shrimp, no? Anyways, that is the idea, to make meat balls from shrimp and to make it even more complicated these are cantina (pub, bar) style shrimp balls.

Ok, ok, I guess after reading the recipe, you will get the point, so keep on reading.


Ingredients for shrimp balls

For the broth:

1 cup of dried shrimp (All supermarkets have them.)

2 cups of cocktail sized shrimp.

4 dry chiles (The ones that come in a bag, they look red or brown, but any kind will do.)

1 tomato (Boiled and peeled.)

1 can or bottle of beer

4 cups of water

Fresh herbs, any kind you like

4 garlic cloves

½ onion

10 sprigs of cilantro

1 can chipotle chile

For the shrimp balls:

1 lb of fresh shrimp

½ of onion

3 cloves of garlic

3 sprigs of cilantro

1 sprig of peppermint

2 sprig of parsley

1 tablespoon of ginger

Oil as needed

Salt and pepper to taste


To make the broth:

1. Cut the onion and the tomatoes into quarters. Put them in a hot casserole dish with olive oil and add the dry shrimp. Cook on high until everything is light brown.

2. Add the fresh shrimp and pour in the beer. Let the alcohol evaporate.

3. Add the water and dry chiles.

4. Let cook for about 40 minutes, then add the chipotle chile, mix together and strain. Put the strained broth into a pot and reserve.

To make the shrimp balls:

1. Peel the fresh shrimp and cut into very small cubes (you can use a food processor if you like) and place them in a bowl.

2. Finely chop the onion, garlic and herbs and add to the shrimp. Then add the tomato, along with the chipotle chile and grated ginger.

3. Mix everything together until all the ingredients are integrated. Make small balls (about the size of a golf ball) with your hands.

4. Place the shrimp balls into the pot with the broth. Boil for four minutes, and serve.

You can serve these with some rice at the side or vegetables. Enjoy!