Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos
From the recipe archive, first posted 2010.
Some things taste so much better than they look. This is an odd looking dish with the orangey pink shrimp and the light yellow-y green tomatillos, speckled here and there with white Cotija cheese and green cilantro. And you might be thinking, what kind of combination is that? But hear me out. This odd assortment of ingredients is just a Southwestern riff off a shrimp saganaki, which is typically made with feta and tomato sauce. One of the best received recipes on this site is for baked shrimp in tomato feta sauce. It just works. The onions and the shrimp provide the sweetness, the tomatillos or tomatoes the acidity, the Cotija queso seco or feta the saltiness, and the cilantro or parsley the bitter. Wrap some in a flour tortilla and you practically have a shrimp quesadilla with salsa verde.
Shrimp can be cooked either shell on or shell off. Cooking with the shell on will result in better flavor, but can be fussy to eat, as you have to pick off the shells as you eat them. Shelling and deveining the shrimp before cooking can add a good 10 minutes to prep time, but the resulting dish is easier to eat. This is a one pan dish, going from stove-top to oven, so use an oven-proof pan.
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
- 1-2 jalapeno chiles, seeded, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 lb tomatillos, chopped
- 1/2 cup clam juice OR 1/4 cup water*
- 1 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined
- 1 cup Cotija queso seco cheese (can substitute feta)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Lime juice
- Black pepper
- An oven-proof sauté pan or cast iron pan
*One time we made this we used tequila instead of clam juice, it was good too!
1 Heat oil in the pan you will use for baking. Add the onions and jalapeños, cook for 5 minutes on medium high until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add the tomatillos, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, until the tomatillos are cooked through, but still hold their shape. Sprinkle salt over the tomatillos as they are cooking.
2 If using clam juice, add to pan, turn up the heat and reduce by half. If using water, just add the 1/4 cup of water without reducing.
3 Add the cheese and shrimp. Cook in a preheated 425°F oven for 10 minutes.
4 Remove pan from the oven. If using a pan with a handle, such as a cast iron frying pan, I recommend cooling the handle with ice for safety; it's so easy to forget that pan has just come out of the oven, and you grab the hot handle by mistake. Right before serving, mix in the cilantro and sprinkle with lime juice and freshly ground black pepper.