Pipián is one of the many types of Moles made in Mexico. Pipianes go back to pre-hispanic times in Mexico. Sauces thickened with seeds - pumpkin or squash seeds to be precise - are what native Mexicans used to cook. These sauces were either red or green, depending on the ingredients used: red pipianes are made with dried chiles, while green ones are made with pumpkin seeds. Pipianes were served with turkey or quail, and subsequently with chicken, after the Spanish brought the birds from the old world.
This Pipián Verde is made with pepitas, sesame seeds and tomatillos, and it can be made very quickly. It is a thick, velvety sauce with a slight kick from the chiles. Very simple to make, yet very elegant and delicious, you can eat it with chicken, salmon, shrimp or even pasta!
If you have a very powerful blender, you can simply blend all the ingredients together, but if you don’t own one, I suggest you grind the sesame seeds first in a coffee grinder to get them going before adding them to the rest of the ingredients in the blender. Otherwise, the sesame seeds won’t be ground fine enough and your sauce will be coarse. We are looking for a very smooth, fine textured sauce here.
If you don’t have a coffee grinder and your blender is only so-so, you can use tahini paste (6 Tbsp) instead of the sesame seeds. I have done this on occasion and it does save some time and the results are pretty good. Not exactly the same, but still delicious.
Next time your boss is coming over for dinner, or you want to impress your mother-in-law, make this Pipián Verde. They won’t be disappointed and you will get brownie points!
PIPIÁN VERDE CON CAMARONES
Green Pumpkin Seed Sauce with Shrimp
½ cup raw sesame seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, + more for garnish
1 lb tomatillos
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 Jalapeño chiles (or 6 Serranos)
6 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp dried epazote
2 Tbsp manteca (lard) or olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 lb large shrimp
½ tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 Tbsp olive oilOn a dry griddle or comal, roast chopped onion, chiles and unpeeled garlic. Toss every few minutes until everything is charred all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from griddle and peel garlic cloves. Place in blender jar.
Toast the sesame seeds over medium heat in a dry frying pan until golden and fragrant, around 5 minutes. Toast pumpkin seeds in the same way – they will puff up nicely. Place sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds in blender jar along with onions, chiles and garlic.
Meanwhile, in saucepan, cook tomatillos with enough water to cover until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain tomatillos and place in the blender with onion, chiles, garlic, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Add epazote and about 1 ½ cups chicken stock. Process until very smooth, adding more stock if necessary to make a very smooth sauce.
In a large sauce pan, heat manteca and add the blended sauce. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Slowly add 2-3 cups stock and continue cooking over medium low heat until the sauce thickens and covers the back of a spoon. Season with salt to taste.
In large frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add crushed garlic clove and cook until oil is fragrant. Remove garlic. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and cook in frying pan, turning often, until pink, 2-4 minutes.
Serve a pool of pipián on the plate and arrange shrimp on top. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with white rice.
This recipe was first featured at www.thelatinkitchen.com