"This humble meal is today considered Puerto Rico's unofficial national dish, and a family favorite for many. Growing up, mofongo was a dish reserved for special occasions and almost always served with 'camarones a la criolla,' or Creole shrimp. My version takes my family's recipe and incorporates a few tricks I've picked up along the way growing up in Brooklyn. ¡Buen provecho!" — César Ramón Pérez Medero
Essential Equipment: mortar and pestle
Watch this recipe
- 12 large shell-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground annatto
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 green plantains
- 3 sprigs culantro (aka recao, sawtooth coriander, or chadon beni), chopped
- 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 7 garlic cloves, 4 peeled and halved, 3 peeled and whole
- 5 ají dulce sweet peppers, minced
- 1 small green cubanelle pepper, seeded and minced
- Canola oil, for deep frying (at least 2 cups)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 4 ounces Spanish-style tomato sauce or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup light beer (Medalla Light or any pilsner)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 ounces chicharrones (fried pork rinds)
- In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, annatto, cumin, and 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Cover and refrigerate.
- Simmer reserved shrimp shells in 2 cups water until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Strain and discard the shells.
- Cut off both ends of the plantains. With the tip of your knife, cut a shallow slit down the length of each ridge, making sure to not go too deep. Gently slide a butter knife down between the flesh and skin of the plantain, lifting up slightly as you go. If the skin is being stubborn, run the plantain under cold water as you repeat these steps. After your plantains are peeled, cut into 2-inch rounds and hold in a bowl of cold salty water.
- Now make the sofrito: Add your culantro, cilantro, shallot, 4 halved garlic cloves, ají dulce peppers, and cubanelle pepper to a mortar. Sprinkle with salt and use a pestle to mash until you're left with a paste.
- In a medium pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, heat the canola oil to 325°F. This'll be ready for the frying of the plantains by the time you're done cooking your shrimp.
- To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sofrito mixture along with the bay leaf and tomato sauce. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the beer and cook for another 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Add the marinated shrimp and cook for about 1 minute, just until they start to turn opaque. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter.
- Remove plantains from salt water and pat dry. Gently drop into the 325°F oil and deep-fry until lightly golden and cooked all the way through, about 12 minutes. Stir plantains occasionally, keeping an eye on the temperature of the oil. (A burnt plantain will be dry, dark brown, and hard to mash.) Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
- In your mortar and pestle, mash the remaining 3 garlic cloves with a pinch of salt until you're left with a paste. Add half of the fried plantains, the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra virgin-olive oil, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, the chicharrones, and ½ cup of shrimp stock. Mash very well until no chunks of plantain remain. Add the remaining fried plantains and continue to mash until smooth, like a very thick mashed potato. Add a little more butter and oil if the mixture is too dry.
- Using a small bowl, mold mofongo into two half spheres and plate. Top with shrimp, sauce, and a bit of chopped cilantro. Eat right away with an ice cold Medalla.