My friend Kristen took me to Mariscos Veracruzanos in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week. When we first drove by it looked like an abandoned building. Then we saw there was a sandwich board on the pavement advertising shrimp tamales so we parked and went in. There were a lot of things on the menu that I didn’t recognize. I Googled “gorditas de jaiva” on my phone but I wasn’t 100% sure what it was so we asked and our waiter instantly reappeared with a little plate of two complimentary gorditas filled with marinated surimi. We still couldn’t decide what to get so we asked our server what she would recommend and she said something about the burritos. I was a little disappointed but I thanked her and then read the dry erase board where the daily specials were written. I couldn’t quite make out the first word. It looked like of like mato-go or moio-go — someone’s elbow had probably rubbed the letters off. Then it came to me. Mofongo. So I ordered the mofongo with shrimp and when the owner and chef, Doña Mica, saw what we ordered she called to us from the kitchen to tell us we made a good choice. She also said that even though she is from Mexico she likes to prepare Caribbean dishes because many of patrons in Grand Rapids are from the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. I sipped on my horchata and Kristen enjoyed her lemonade while we listened to the pork chitlins sizzling on her gridle. The mofongo was fantastic but the chitlins (chicharrones) were a little too crunchy (I honestly thought they were cherimoya seeds at first) and I kind of felt like I was going to crack a tooth chewing on them.
When I got back here to Livonia is couldn’t stop raving about it so Andrew and I made up our own meatless version yesterday for dinner. It turned out really well so I’ll post the recipe here.
oil, garlic, white onion, 2 plantains, 1 cassava root, 1 scotch bonnet pepper (seeds removed), salt, pepper, butter, brown sugar
Peel and cut up the cassava into small pieces. Boil until soft (25 minutes) and then drain and reserve. Brown onions and garlic in oil and then fry plantain until browned. Remove from heat and mash with cassava and minced pepper. Add butter, salt, pepper, and brown sugar to taste. When cool to the touch, form the dough into balls and then fry until golden in oil. Let drain on paper towel and then serve with curried scallion cream sauce (below).
garlic, onions, heavy cream, green curry paste, brown sugar, scallions, cilantro
Sweat onions and garlic then add heavy cream and reduce heat. Mix in curry paste, brown sugar, and cilantro to taste. Cut scallions into long strips and then add and simmer for 10 minutes.