For perplexed Cinco de Mayo celebrants & shrimp lovers I offer some South of the Border explanations.
The first year lived in Mexico I asked my Spanish teacher about how people celebrated Cinco de Mayo in Mexico? I seriously thought people strung up those Jose Cuervo banners I saw at home in all the Tex-Mex restaurants & had one day long extravaganza! I mean why not?? Back in the states it's a day of culture & foods. I'd already seen how they threw parties for Diez y Sies & other big events. I was quite surprised to find out that the celebration is called Cinco de Mayo but hardly rates a blip on the radar across most of Mexico. As we leave Mexico soon I have to wonder if I'll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo next year in the Estados Unidos with a different appreciation for the event?
The state of Puebla recognizes the day but it's not a national holiday throughout Mexico. The day actually celebrates the Battle of Puebla when the French under estimated how the Mexicans were seriously fed up with & quite angered concerning French expansion on Mexican soil. It took Mexico several more battles albiet years to clear out foreign intervention in Mexico. The real hero of the Battle of Puebla was a young General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Texans may recognize the name Zaragoza as he was born in near the town of present day Goliad Texas. Ignacio Zaragoza moved from Goliad to Monterrey, entered a Seminary then later joined the Mexican Army. There he rose through the ranks & actually fought for reestablishment of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico & defeated the dictator Santa Anna. (I knew there was a reason I liked this historical personage!) General Ignacio Zaragoza died after contracting Malaria & dying at the youthful age of 33. So when you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the States just remember this true hero of Cinco de Mayo. My tribute to General Zaragoza involves giving some South of the Border flair to a standard Thai dish. All Texans know that premium shrimp can be found in the Gulf. The shrimp I cooked for Cinco de Mayo are from the state of Veracruz & of course the Gulfo de Mexico! Feliz Cinco de Mayo~
Our dinner menu featured Drunken Noodles with 2 Different Chilies (which I am sending onto Girlichef for her Chili Pepper Challenge) & Krupek/Shrimp crackers sprinkled with Tajin, a Mexican Lime & chili seasoning~
Cinco de Mayo Drunken Noodles
16 oz wide Thai rice noodles
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 Red Bell pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Bell pepper, sliced
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb raw, peeled shrimp
1 can baby corn, drained & halved
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
fresh basil leaves, about 2-3 stems of leaves.
fresh cilantro leaves, about 2-3 stems of leaves.
3-4 Chilis Arbol*
oil for cooking
1 large or 2 small limes for juicing in sauce and garnish
6 TB Oyster sauce
3 TB rice vinegar
2-3 TB fish sauce
3 TB sugar
3 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB Ground Chipotle Chilis (ground chiles processed or blended into paste)
Start noodles & have boiled & ready to add to dish since the veggies & shrimp come together quickly. Keep them in water so they don't stick together.
Saute onion, garlic & peppers in 2 Tbsp. Oil in large skillet. When the veggies are still crisp add the Chilis Arbol, Shrimp & cook till just pink but not over cooked. Add in the drained baby corn & water chestnuts. Drain the noodles & add them into the skillet, toss the shrimp, veggies & add sauce, stir well enough to blend the sauce over the mixture. The noodles are now drunken with the sauce, add basil, cilantro & serve with limes.
*Chilis Arbol are thin skinny Mexican Chilis the size of a small finger. Leave them whole when cooking with them. It makes it easier for a non-Chili lover to pick them out!