Camarones a la Criolla

I took a little break from Korean food this weekend to try a Colombian shrimp creole dish, Camarones a la Criolla.

The path to this recipe was kind of roundabout. First, a friend asked if I knew how to make a Thai chicken dish that she has been buying from Lean Cuisine. The next time I needed a quick meal, I went ahead and bought one to try. It was very tasty, but didn’t seem particularly Thai to me.  It actually reminded me of a shrimp creole sauce that my aunt used to make. I think the main thing that made it ‘Thai’ was coconut milk. And when I looked up shrimp creole with coconut milk – the recipe that I found was Colombian!

Regardless of whether it would be similar, it looks like a really yummy recipe, so I went ahead and made it with the shrimp, but it could definitely be made with chicken instead. All the ingredients are easy to find.

creole ingredients

Camarones a la Criolla
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped red bell pepper
2 Tbsp. minced onions
1 c. canned diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 can coconut milk
1 lb. shrimp, peeled
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

The creole sauce starts by melting the butter and vegetable oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic and red pepper briefly until they start to soften. Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt, bay leaf, paprika, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

tomato&pepper

Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered. Then add the shrimp and cook for at least 5-10 minutes more, or until the shrimp are cooked through.

coconut milk

Remove from heat and add chopped parsley and cilantro. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

Shrimp Creole

If you want a smoother sauce, use pureed tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes. I also thickened the sauce a bit at the end by adding some cornstarch (1 tsp.) that had been dissolved in cold water (1 Tbsp.).

Now the question: was it similar to the Lean Cuisine Thai dish?  Pretty close flavor actually, though I think the Lean Cuisine sauce was a bit thicker and maybe a tad sweeter. To really imitate it, I would suggest pureeing the sauce all together before adding the coconut milk and shrimp, and possibly adding a bit more red bell pepper.

Adapted from: http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com

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