Nuyorican Shrimp with Garlic

In my family, back on the block, when we had shrimp, it was cooked either of two way: Camarones con Cebolla (shrimp with onion) or Camarones con Ajo (shrimp with garlic). Of these two dishes, my favorite was camarones con ajo. I love garlic. So did my father. Vampires would have a hard time getting close to us. And whatever leftover shrimp there was, we would have the next day in sandwiches.

I've discovered that in Spain, shrimp in garlic sauce is a popular dish in Galicia. That was probably the origin of our Puerto Rican shrimp dish---which became Nuyorican when the family got to new York. In our version we always added a hot pickled pepper, either red or green. And we usually bought the Goya brand which came in 6-ounce jars. The peppers were pickled in vinegar and we would sprinkle the vinegar on any dish to add a bit more spice. My mother thought we were nuts, but my father and I loved the added kick.

This recipe is fairly simple to make. It's a quick, no fuss deal. Naturally, in my family, we served it over steamed rice; but any grain will do, even couscous or pasta. I've even served it over kasha (buckwheat groats)---though my Jewish friends would think this strange since kasha is a staple of Eastern European cuisine. But then, as my father would say, "I'm Puerto Rican, I don't have to make sense."

CAMARONES CON AJO
   (Shrimp with Garlic)

2 pounds medium-to-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 hot pepper (red or green), either pickled (as noted above) or dried, whole
2 tablespoon dry white wine or chicken broth
Minced parsley for garnish

1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and pepper.
2. When the garlic begins to color, raise the heat to medium high and add the shrimp. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, turning once, or until the shrimp are pink.
3. Add the wine or chicken broth, remove the pepper, garnish with parsley and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

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