Asopao de Camarones (Shrimp and Rice Pottage) is a fantastic dish that is easy to make, with a very forgiving recipe, and sometimes prepared for informal get-togethers.
If you know what an asopao is, and how much we Dominicans love them, it will not surprise you that this Asopao de Camarones (Shrimp and Rice Pottage) is one of the oldest in our recipe collection.
What'll surprise you is that we added this asopao way before we did the asopao de pollo recipe, considering that since chicken it's way less expensive than shrimp, the latter is more popular. Unless you come from a fishing town on the North Coast, as yours truly.
Asopa'o is the shortened version of the word "asopado", meaning soup-like in Spanish. In the Dominican Republic, it is used to describe a type of rice pottage that is very popular in our country.
This is a dish that lends itself to late-night cocina'os (informal dinner parties), since it can be based on a number of meats or seafood, from the inexpensive pica pica (canned spicy sardines in tomato sauce) to lobster (never had one, but I am sure it's lovely). If more guests than expected were to turn up, you just need to add a bit more water to your concoction.
About our recipe
There's no right or wrong way to make an asopao. The bare basics are rice, water, some type of protein, tomato sauce or paste, and seasonings, cook the rice until it doubles in size, or it splits and turns mushy (a matter of taste). So everybody will just do what they like best, but an asopao will always be recognizable.
This recipe works beautifully for a couple of reasons: One, the shrimp is not overcooked. Overcooked seafood is one of my pet peeves, so this is important to me. Second, it has a lot of shrimp flavor.
If you buy unpeeled shrimp, add the heads and/or shells to the water for extra flavor, but even if peeled shrimp is what you have at hand, the minced shrimp added at the beginning adds a lot flavor, while you can control the cooking time of the whole shrimp added at the end.
Asopao de Camarones Recipe (Shrimp and Rice Pottage)
- 3 quart [3 lt] of boiling water (which you'll keep simmering over low heat, see notes)
- 2 lbs [0.9 kg] of shrimp , raw and peeled (and extra shellfish of your preference, see notes)
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large red onion , diced
- 1 cup bell peppers , diced
- 1 teaspoon mashed garlic
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley (plus more for decoration if you wish)
- 2 cups of tomato sauce (or 5 tbsps of tomato paste)
- 2 limes , divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons of salt , divided (you may not need it all)
- 2 ½ cups of rice long grain, or carolina
- ½ cup of carrot , diced
- ½ cup of peas (petit pois, canned - optional)
- ½ teaspoon of pepper (or to taste)
- Hot sauce (or agrio de naranja)
Heating water: Pour the water into a pot and heat over medium-low heat until it reaches a low boil, lower heat to just enough to keep very hot. If you have heads and/or peels, add it now to add flavor to the water. We'll use this liquid to add to the other pot later in the preparation.
Making the base: Mince ⅓ of the shrimps. Set the whole shrimp aside (refrigerated). In a separate stew pot heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, and parsley. Cook and stir until the onion turns translucent. Add the minced shrimp, cook and stir for another minute. Add the tomato sauce, the juice of 1 lime, and mix well. Pour in ⅓of the water (from the other pot), and 1 tablespoon of salt, increase heat to medium, and bring to the boil.
Cooking the rice: Add the rice, carrot, and peas and stir. Stir the rice regularly, adding boiling-hot water from the other pot to keep the rice covered as the liquid evaporates and is absorbed by the rice. Once the rice is cooked through (grains are soft and have doubled their size), add the remaining shrimp you had set aside, and cook just until the shrimp becomes bright pink. Taste and season with pepper, salt, and hot sauce to taste.
Serving: Serve with lime wedges, a few slices of avocados or tostones.