This is one of my all time favorite dishes to make and I recently had a request for the recipe. A good Peruvian style chile paste is the secret to the rich and spicy sauce that coats the clams, mussels, shrimp or whatever shellfish you use. At Palo Santo we make our own chile paste. If you are ambitious you can make a batch at home, or you can visit a South American grocery store and buy a jar. There are a few different types. Pasta de Aji Panca has a nice deep earthy flavor, dark red color and a warm medium hot spice. Pasta de Aji Amarillo is yellow and usually a bit more mild. Pasta de Aji Rocoto is the most intense and spiciest of them.
Picante de Mariscos is a rich and creamy dish that you can make with either coconut milk or heavy cream. It’s somewhat reminiscent of chowder and easy to adopt as comfort food. Serve it as a main course over a big bowl of rice, or as a first course with good bread. And don’t forget the beer! You’ll need something cold and frothy for all of that spice. The other day I included this dish in a tasting at Palo Santo and paired it with Ithaca White Gold.
Picante de Mariscos
feeds 8 people as a main course or more as an appetizer
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (peeled and sliced)
½ small onion (peeled and chopped)
1 small hot pepper (seeded and chopped)
¼ cup chile paste
½ tsp ground chile powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ cup dry white wine
1 can coconut milk or heavy cream
¼ cup cracker crumbs
salt to taste
2 dozen little neck clams
1 lb. mussels (cleaned)
½ lb. calamari (cleaned and cut into rings)
1 lb. shrimp (peeled and devaned)
4 ears of corn (shucked, rinsed, broken in half)
1 medium yuca (peeled, cut into eight pieces and boiled until soft)
2 yellow plantains (peeled, quartered and boiled for 15min)
4 small potatoes (boiled until soft and cut in half)
In a large sauce pot, sweat garlic, onion and hot pepper in olive oil over medium heat.
Add chile paste, chile powder and cumin.
Add the clams because they will take longer to cook than the rest of the shelfish.
Deglaze with white wine and add Coconut milk or heavy cream.
Add the cracker crumbs and stir to thicken.
Season with salt to taste.
Bring up to a slow boil and add the remaining shellfish, corn, yuca, plantains and potatoes.
Allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until all of the mussels’ shells have opened and the corn is cooked.
Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.
Serve with rice.