Growing up, my Peruvian grandmother would frequently cook a shrimp stew-ish dish called “Chupín de Camarones”, the Spanish spelling for a Shrimp Cioppino. Back then, I couldn´t stand the thing. My family knew my grandma spoiled me, and that fact became very evident whenever she made chupín, because she would make steak just for me so I had something to eat instead of the soup. My dislike for the dish changed, though, and I´m not so sure when. All I know is I started liking it, and now I feel very silly for having turned up my nose at it for so many years.
Here it is, in honor of my visit to my mom´s. It may seem like a very long list of ingredients and very labor-intensive, but trust me, IT´S WORTH IT.
CHUPÍN DE CAMARONES
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1/2 kg (about 1lb) whole raw shrimp (preferably river-grown).
- 1/2 kg raw shrimp tails
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 3 beef steak tomatoes (or 5 plum), chopped
- 3 heads garlic, mashed
- a dash oregano
- 2 leveled tbsp ají panca peruano or ají amarillo peruano *
- 1 tbsp huacataya leaf paste **
- 1/3 c white rice
- 1/4 c frozen green peas
- 4 red potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 ears of corn (preferably white), cut in 1-inch length pieces
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 can evaporated milk
- 50 grs (about 3 oz) queso fresco, cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring 12 c of water to boil in a large pot. Add the tsp of salt and add the shrimp. Cook for about 6 minutes and lift them out with a slotted spoon. Keep the water in the pot.
- In a separate pan heat the 2 tbsp oil and when warm, sauté the onion, tomatoes, oregano, garlic, ají and huacataya paste. Let cook until onions are translucent and tomato is soft.
- Add sautéed elements to the shrimp water. Bring to boil, add the rice and peas, lower temperature to medium and let cook for about 15 minutes.
- Add potatoes and corn. Cook until both are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
- Return shrimp to pot.
- Bring soup to a full boil, add eggs, one at a time, breaking them right over the soup and stirring immediately after each one.
- Add the evaporated milk and queso fresco.
- Taste and add salt and pepper to taste right before serving.
Serve very hot.
* Ají panca and ají amarillo are Peruvian hot peppers, found in most international supermarkets in a glass jar. You may also find them in powder, and if that´s the case, add only one tablespoon of it. These peppers add mostly flavor and color, and though they are spicy, they’re not too strong. My mom sometimes uses both ajís when she makes chupín. When getting panca, make sure it’s that (the picture is a long, dark red and long pepper). Do not get “rocoto”, which is another kind of pepper, bright red and round.
** Huacataya is known in English as black mint. It´s typical of the Andes and added to a lot of Peruvian and Bolivian dishes. I think it can also be found in international supermarkets. If you cannot find it, omit it, as it´s flavor is very unique and I have no idea what you can substitute it with.
Also, make sure you remove the shrimp after 6 minutes, or you will over cook them and they will taste like rubber. You may cook them peeled or with the shell. I find that cooking them with the shell adds more flavor to the broth.