Shrimp Balls with Salsa de Arbol
For the salsa
4 medium-size tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, still in their peels
½ of a white onion, cut into 4 wedges
1 Serrano chile, split in half
4 dried Arbol chiles (available at Whole Foods)
¼ c. water
2 tsp. salt
1. Preheat a stovetop grill or cast-iron skillet until a drop of olive oil begins to smoke lightly.
2. Lightly coat tomatoes, garlic, onion, and Serrano chile with olive oil and place on the skillet with enough space in between that they aren’t touching. Cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side until lightly charred and beginning to soften. (The garlic husks should brown, and the garlic should feel softened and roasted inside.)
3. Place the Arbol chiles on the skillet last and keep on the heat just until they are fragrant and toasted but not burned (about a minute on each side).
4. Remove peel from garlic and place everything into a pot with the water and salt. Stir, cover, and cook over medium heat until all vegetables are softened and cooked through.
5. Blend to a chunky consistency with an immersion or regular blender.
For the shrimp balls
2 medium-size shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Serrano chile, minced
1½ c. white rice, cooked
½ c. cilantro, chopped
¾ c. olive oil
1½ lbs. medium shrimp, cleaned, deveined, rinsed, and dried
1½ tbsp. salt
1. Saute shallots, cloves, and chile over medium heat in olive oil until softened. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Combine mixture with rice, ¼ c. cilantro, and ¼ c. of the olive oil. Break up the rice as you go.
3. Put half the shrimp in a food processor with ¼ c. of the olive oil and half the salt. Process for 30 seconds to form a paste. Add to the bowl with rice mixture.
4. Put remaining shrimp, olive oil, and salt into food processor and pulse 10 times or until the shrimp is roughly chopped. Add to the bowl and and mix well with your hands. Form golf ball-size balls with your hands.
5. Bring a pot of salted water (1 tbsp. salt to every 2 qt. of water) to just under a simmer. Add balls and poach for about 6 minutes or until they float.
6. Heat the salsa and balls together. Place the balls in a serving dish and spoon extra salsa over the top. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and drizzle with olive oil.
7. Serve with a cold beer or margarita. Imagine you are on a beach.
To see chef John Martinez make this recipe, watch our video.