This recipe was shared with me by Pilar Hovermale, a houseguest that stayed with me while visiting the Savannah area. Unlike traditional Peruvian and Mexican Ceviche, the Ecuadorean version is served with a lot more liquid, like a soup.
Yield: 8 servings
2 lbs. medium shell-on shrimp
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red onions
½ bunch cilantro
2 lbs. tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeded
1 green bell pepper, cored and cut in large pieces
Peel shrimp and save the shells. Devein shrimp and set aside.
Place a deep pot (6 or 8qt. stockpot) on the burner over medium-high heat until you can feel the heat rising from the surface when you hold your hand about 6 inches from the bottom of the pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan, tilting to coat the bottom evenly. Add the reserved shrimp shells and saute until the shells turn pink and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cover the shrimp shells with cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. Working in batches, blend the shrimp shells and cooking liquid in a blender. Be careful to only fill the blender half full at a time. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the shells from the broth. Chill broth. Wash the blender bottle to use again later.
Heat a large saute pan over high heat and add a drizzle of oil once the pan is heated. Tilt the pan to coat evenly and add the shrimp, seasoning with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook just until the shrimp is pink, you don’t want them to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the saute pan, reserving cooking juices, and cool on a platter or sheet pan in the refrigerator.
Slice one red onion into thin slices. Place in a strainer and rinse under cold water to remove some of the stronger flavors. Drain onions well and add to a large glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel bowl (not aluminum which would react with the acids) and add the juice of 1 lime and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Coarsely chop the cilantro, reserving some for garnish, and add to the onions and lime juice.
Pour the reserved cooking juices into the blender. Add the peeled and seeded tomatoes to the blender along with the red onion, coarsely chopped; juice of 1 lime, juice of both oranges, and the bell pepper. Puree the mixture, adding the shrimp broth to create a thin soup-like consistency. Pour the blended mixture into the bowl with the sliced onion and cilantro. Add the chilled shrimp and mix well. Ladle into serving bowls or glasses and garnish with cilantro.