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Bex’s Mofongo with Shrimp & Mojo Sauce

mofongo with shrimp

“Mofongo with shrimp is one of my favorite dishes,” homecook Bex Streeper told Familia Kitchen when she sent us her family-famous recipe for this mashed-plantain dish. “It is often my first meal I seek out when I’m in Puerto Rico. In my opinion, this dish is the greatest representation of Puerto Rican food.”

Though she lives in Iowa today, Bex grew up in Chicago in a Puerto Rican–Polish family. Her dad is the Boricua, born in Humacao, a small city in the southeast of the island. From a young age, Bex loved to spend time in the cocina and learned to cook her way home to both sides of her heritage. Make that three sides: She also mastered recipes honoring her husband’s Mexican roots. To taste her Mexican cocina chops, check out Bex’s shrimp ceviche, a Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest No. 1 winner. (We love her ceviche so much, it’s in our Familia Kitchen Cookbook.)

Puerto Rico’s traditional dishes have a special hold on her heart, Bex tells us. These recipes remind her of visiting relatives on the island. Starting with this shrimp mofongo. “I’ve had it in restaurants but was never smitten until one family trip to Puerto Rico,” she says. “That’s when I discovered how lovely the dish truly is. The richness of the platanos, kissed with the essence of garlic. I feel it is a great representation of the Puerto Rican culture. A mash-up (pun intended) of what makes us Puerto Ricans. It marries our three cultures: the Taino, the African, and the European, into a simple but beautiful dish.”

mofongo
This mofongo from Puerto Rico is a favorite recipe in the family of Bex Streeper. She added a culantro leaf for garnish.

What Is Mofongo?

Mofongo refers to the plantain mash itself. Green plantains are sliced into chunks, fried and mixed with olive oil, garlic, salt and (usually!) chopped pork rinds into a warm, crunchy mound of garlicky deliciousness. Think a heartier, thicker mashed potatoes, sometimes loaded with a topping, in this case blackened shrimp. What makes this comfort food an island favorite and takes it to a new level of delicioso is when the plantain mash is filled or covered with a protein—usually chicken, beef, seafood or vegetables—after being sautéed in sofrito, Puerto Rico’s essential cooking base. Mofongo is the Boricua descendant of the West African dish fufu, which is made with boiled yuca or yams. Fufu was brought to Puerto Rico by enslaved Africans forced by the Spanish to work on sugar plantations. Over time, Puerto Ricans made the dish their own, replacing the boiled yuca with fried green plantains. African fufu is also the basis of Dominican dishes like mangu with los tres golpes, a traditional DR breakfast.

Plantains fried
To make mofongo, fried green plantains are mashed with garlic, salt and pork rinds.

Bex’s favorite way to eat mofongo is topped with blackened shrimp. “In my recipe, I included chicharron or pork rinds, which is a traditional way to make this dish, but definitely optional if you don’t eat meat. Some purists will also balk at store- bought chicharrón,” she says, “But do what speaks to you.”
When Bex emailed this recipe to us at Familia Kitchen, she signed off “con sabor y sazon”—“with flavor and seasoning”—like the great Boricua cook she is. Gracias, Bex!

To try more of Bex’s family-famous Puerto Rican and Mexican recipes, start with her Recipe Contest-No. 1-winning shrimp ceviche and then work your way through her guacamole, sopes de carne asada, chili with beef, beans and hominy, and her incredible coquito French toast. If you have a sweet tooth, this last one is for you, dulce fans. And finally, this mofongo with shrimp recipe dish includles one of our favorite words in all of Latino cooking: mofongo!

Bex’s Mofongo with Shrimp & Mojo Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Bex Streeper Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Mofongo
  • 3 3 green plantains

  • 1 tsp 1 salt, plus more to taste the dish is done

  • 4 cups 4 vegetable oil (or a neutral frying oil)

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 olive oil

  • 3 cloves 3 garlic, chopped

  • 1 cup 1 chicharron (pork rind), chopped—or bacon or fried fat back

  • Chicken broth, warmed, to thin the mofongo mash, as needed

  • For the Blackened Shrimp
  • 3/4 cup 3/4 olive oil, divided

  • 2 to 3 cloves 2 to 3 garlic, diced

  • 1 tsp 1 salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 cilantro, chopped

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 roasted red peppers, diced

  • 1 1 lime, cut in half

  • 1 lb 1 shrimp, cleaned and deveined (Bex buys extra jumbo, 16/20 count)

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp 1 to 2 adobo seasoning (see note below)

  • 1 tsp 1 sazón seasoning

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 vegetable oil for shallow frying the shrimp

Directions

  • Fry the Plantains
  • Peel and slice the green plantains into 1 1/2 inch-thick wheels.
  • Soak the plantains in salty water for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the plantains and pat them with a clean kitchen towel until they are thoroughly dry.
  • Warm the frying oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven on medium-high, until it reaches frying heat: 350 degrees.
  • Fry the plantains in batches, so as not to crowd them. Fry for about 3 minutes per side or until each turns light brown. Make sure not to over-brown the plantains or you will ed up with a dry mofongo. Use a fork to test for doneness. You want each piece to be chewy and soft on the inside.
  • Using a large slotted spoon, remove the plantains from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  • Make the Mojo Sauce
  • In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil on medium until it starts to simmer. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
  • Mash the Ingredients Together
  • In a pilon (mortar and pestle), molcajete or heavy bowl, mix 1 tsp of mojo, the chicharron or pork rinds, and salt. Mash together until the mixture forms into a wet paste.
  • Add the plantain chunks, 1 or 2 at a time. Smash and incorporate into the paste. Repeat until all ingredients have been combined. You want the mixture to be soft and juicy. If it gets too dry, you can add warm chicken broth to make the mofongo smoother, to your taste.
  • Once all the plantains are mashed into the mixture, it can be served in the same pilón or mold them in a bowl. Run a butter knife around the edges to release the plantain mash from its container.
  • Prepare the Mojo
  • In the bowl with the reserved mojo, add the additional 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  • Mix in the adobo and sazón seasonings. Taste to adjust salt if necessary.
  • Make the Shrimp
  • In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup olive oil on medium, until just simmering. (Reserve the remaining ¼ cup for sautéing the shrimp.)
  • Add the diced garlic and salt. Sauté for about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the chopped cilantro. Cook for 1 more minute or until the cilantro becomes fragrant.
  • Add the chopped, roasted red peppers to the mix. Stir to incorporate. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Add the shrimp, stirring to make sure it is fully coated in the marinade. Place the saucepan with the shrimp mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (While the shrimp is marinating, Bex fries and mashes the mofongo mixture, above.)
  • When the shrimp is fully marinated, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the shrimp in a single layer and let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook until just opaque, firm, and curled, about 1 minute.
  • Transfer shrimp to the saucepan with the sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime and toss in sauce until well coated.
  • How to Serve This Dish
  • Serve each person a rounded mound of warm, juicy mofongo topped with the blackened shrimp and a scoop of its sauce. Accompany with a small bowl of warmed chicken broth to thin the mofongo as needed, plus a second bowl of mojo sauce.
  • To add a dash of elegance to this humble staple, Bex garnishes each serving of mofongo with a flash-fried leaf of culantro, a Puerto Rican herb that’s something like cilantro, but different. “Buen provecho, everyone!” says Bex.

Notes

  • Pro tip from Bex’s dad: When peeling plantains, add olive oil and salt to your hands to prevent them from turning black. This is also a must when her family makes pasteles. Added bonus: olive oil is great for your skin!
  • For the shrimp, Bex uses 2 Tbsp of her family’s adobo recipe, which is salt-free. If you’re using a salted version of adobo, reduce the salt to 1 Tbsp.
  • Bex also makes these shrimp to serve with rice, too! Delicioso, she says.

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