Peruvian Quinoa Shrimp Chicharrones with Aji Sauce

Chicharrones are a popular fried snack in Peru, and some chefs there are serving them with quinoa in the coating. This is a lighter version, using the technique of oven-frying to keep the coating from soaking up oil. The quinoa has a wonderful crunch, even without frying.

1  large jalapeno chile, seeded
2  cloves garlic
1  bunch cilantro, cleaned and stemmed or 2 cups cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed
16  jumbo shrimp, tails on, deveined or 16  prawns
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
2  large eggs, lightly beaten
Make the sauce first. In a food processor or blender, finely mince the jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro. Add the lime juice and salt, and purée. Drizzle in the olive oil to make a smooth sauce. Reserve.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. After rinsing the quinoa, add it to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, then drain. Spread the quinoa out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry. It should be quite dry to the touch; pat it with towels if necessary.

Pat the shrimp dry, if damp, and put it in a medium bowl. Mix the oregano, cumin, and cayenne and sprinkle over the shrimp; toss to coat.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare 2 pie pans, one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs. Dip the shrimp in the flour, then the egg, then the quinoa. Place 2 heavy baking pans in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Take each out, spray liberally with oil, then quickly place the shrimp on the hot pans, keeping them from touching. Spray the coated shrimp with oil, and bake for 5 minutes. Flip the shrimp with tongs, then bake for 5 minutes more. Cut one through the thickest part to make sure they are cooked through. The baking time will vary with the size of the shrimp.

Serve the shrimp hot with the aji sauce.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 30 min

Servings: 4

Recipe By: Robin Asbell and Caren Alpert

From:  The New Whole Grains Cookbook
Used with permission of Chronicle Books

Nutrition Facts
As prepared, each serving contains 340 calories, 19g total fat, 150mg cholesterol, 230mg sodium, 28g total carbohydrate and 14g protein.