If you love mofongo you'll squeal with glee when you try this Camarofongo Recipe (Shrimp Mofongo), and will be surprised to learn about its origins.
We all know and love the classic mofongo, but that ball of garlicky goodness has a bazillion calories (rounding up). I am here to bring the kind of life-changing good news that one hopes to get this time of the year: This Camarofongo (Shrimp Mofongo) is every bit as good as the fried one, if not better.
And in better news: This Camarofongo is based on the authentic traditional Dominican mofongo.
If the words "authentic traditional Dominican mofongo" come as a surprise to you, you're probably Boricua, and you're not alone. The first time I ate what is now the most popular version of mofongo (fried) I thought that it was just another Dominican dish I didn't grow up with.
While I was helping with some fact-checking for Ilana's masterful introduction to our Mofongo Recipe, I learned a whole lot myself. Mofongo is possibly a pan-Caribbean dish (it may exist in one way or another in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico). In an 1875 dictionary of Cuban words (1), I found a mention of a dish called "mogo" that sounds like something between a Mangú and a mofongo.
In Dominican cookbooks of the beginning of last century, all the recipes for mofongo were based on roasted plantain (2). I also remember that my grandma used to make something like this. Dominican mofongo, turns out, it's a thing, and was made with plantains roasted (asados) over hot ashes.
So, while we've put out to the world our informed opinion that fried mofongo comes from Puerto Rico, it's clear that Mofongo was a Dominican dish probably for just as long, and maybe --I speculate-- a proto-mofongo of a common African origin also found its way to Cuba. My belief that both mofongo and mangú came from our African side of the family perfectly explains how all this came to be.
So here I bring you a camarofongo: a shrimp mofongo. It is every bit as good as the fried one, and while not exactly the authentic Dominican one with chicharrones, this is an approximation. Or perhaps it is an homage to our great-grandmas' mofongo.
Camarofongo Recipe (Shrimp Mofongo)
- 6 unripe plantains , peeled
- 6 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 tsp of salt , or to taste
- 0.5 cup of olive oil
- 6 mashed garlic cloves
- 1 large white onion , chopped finely
- 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
- 3 cups of tomato sauce
- 2 cups of water
- 2 lb [0.90 kg] of peeled shrimp
- Heat oven to 350 ºF [175 ºC].
- Cut 6 squares of aluminum foil big enough to wrap a plantain in each. Place each plantain on a piece of aluminum foil. Divide the chopped garlic equally between each plantain and wrap tightly in foil.
- Bake for 1 hour. Remove one from the oven, cut in the middle and make sure it is cooked through. If it isn't, wrap again and cook for 15 more minutes.
- Once cooked, unwrap the plantains and mash along with the garlic from the packet using a mortar and pestle.
- Heat three tablespoons of olive oil (set he rest aside) over low heat. Stir in half the mashed garlic (set the rest of the garlic aside). Cook and stir for a minute, or until garlic is cooked through, making sure it does not burn. Stir in half the salt (set aside the rest of the salt). Mix it well with the plantain mash.
- Heat the remaining oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook stirring until the onions turn translucent. Stir in tomatoes and remaining garlic. Cook and stir until the tomato is cooked through.
- Pour in tomato sauce and water. Simmer until it breaks the boil.
- Place the shrimp in the sauce and simmer until they turn pink. You may have to stir once or twice to make sure they cook evenly. Season with salt to taste.
- Make the plantain into six balls and serve on the shrimp sauce.
(1) Amanda Ornes de Perelló, Cocina Criolla. Sto. Dgo: Ed. del Caribe, 1962.
"Mafongo (sic) [...] Se asan plátanos y se majn (sic) y se mezclan con chicharrón molido."
(1) Ligia de Bornia. Comidas Típicas Dominicanas. Sto. Dgo: Arte y Cine, 1965
"Mofongo [...] Maje los plátanos asados y los chicharrones en el mismo pilón."
(2) Esteban Pichardo. Diccionario Provincial Casi Razonado de Vozes y Frases Cubanas. Habana: Imp. El Trabajo, 1875
"[...]plátano salcochado y majado con manteca [...] En Bayamo . se denomina Mogo, que tal vez será síncopa de Mofongo, palabra de Nigricia, usada en algunas de las Antillas."