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Shrimp and Corn Chowder

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“The grated plantain in this coastal Ecuadoran soup gives the dish a wonderfully light and creamy body. Tiny and virtually flavorless, annatto seeds, also known as achiote seeds, are commonly used throughout Latin America to add a distinctive reddish yellow color to sautéed foods. They are available in Latin markets and the Latin section of some supermarkets. At Zafra, Chef Maricel Presilla accents her Ecuadoran chowders, as well as grilled chicken and fish, with this crisp salsa. To turn up the heat, add 1 finely chopped fresh chile, such as cayenne or serrano. This delicious recipe is from Food & Wine, May 2001. MAKE AHEAD: The Annatto Oil can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed jar for up to 2 months. The salsa can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Note: Please check refrigeration times in the instructions, they are not included in prep or cook time.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Annatto Oil - In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup corn oil and 1/4 cup annatto seeds and bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let cool. Strain the annatto-infused oil into a jar. Makes 1 Cup.
  2. Tangy Corn Salsa - In a small saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the corn until just tender, about 3 minutes for fresh or 1 minute for frozen. Drain and let cool; pat dry. In a small bowl, toss the corn with the tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and let stand at least 1 hour before serving. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
  3. Chowder - In a large, shallow glass or stainless-steel bowl, toss the shrimp with two-thirds of the minced garlic, the scallions, lime juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 hours.
  4. In a food processor, puree the corn with the milk. Pour the puree through a coarse strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
  5. Heat the Annatto Oil in a large sauce-pan or enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the remaining garlic, onion, bell pepper and cumin and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the corn milk, stock, plantain, cilantro and cayenne and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until very flavorful, about 20 minutes.
  6. Pour the soup through a coarse strainer. Working in batches, puree the vegetables in a blender. Return the puree and the strained broth to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and its marinade and cook over moderate heat until the shrimp are just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and serve in warmed soup plates or bowls with the Tangy Corn Salsa.

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