Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Seafood Soup ala Chuy's in San Felipe, Mexico

In December 2017 several members of our family decided to spend Christmas in San Felipe where my oldest son has a vacation house. San Felipe is a small, sleepy fishing village on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula 125 miles south of Calexico. The area had changed from the one and only other time John and I visited San Felipe twenty years ago. At that time we stayed at the only motel in the area.  Interestingly, there was a sign in our room that said, “Do not build a fire on the floor.” I guess someone must have tried that or there would be no need for the sign. 

It was obvious that in the intervening twenty years there had been a period of time when there was a building boom as evidenced by the unfinished buildings. All that changed when the housing bubble burst. Vacation homes in San Felipe are now reasonable.  Besides fishing and water activities there is a unique place called Valley of the Giants where there is a forest of cardon cacti, the tallest cacti in the world found only on the Baja and Sonora Deserts. The slow growing plants can reach a height of 60 feet or more and weigh up to 25 tons. 

When the tide was out in front of the vacation
home family members went out on the sand to gather clams for dinner.  The clams, while small, made an excellent dinner. On another day the male members of the family went fishing in the Gulf of California (aka Sea of Cortez). My son said his favorite dinner while in San Felipe was
Seven Seas Soup.  Since we only had clams and fresh fish we went to Chuy’s in the village to try the soup.  Chuy’s is a small family restaurant owned by Jesus Lozana and Maria Luisa Guzman.  One of their three sons, Gabriel Lozano, is the chef, another one waits on table, and the other is the bookkeeper. We were welcomed in the kitchen to watch the soup being prepared. Maria Luisa Guzman also explained how to make fish balls.

Fish ball recipe

2 cups boneless white fish, cooked and flaked
2 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
1 tsp. diced cilantro
1 beaten egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Form into 1 inch balls.  Set aside

Seven Seas Soup

1 Tbsp. butter or cooking oil
½ cup tomato, diced
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
½ green pepper, diced
½ cup carrot, sliced
8 cups fish or chicken broth
Tsp garlic
Tsp cilantro  (save a little for garnish)
Chili pepper, minced, to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 cup baby octopus cut into one inch pieces  
1 cup squid, sliced
2 lbs. white fish cut into 2 inch pieces
6 clams
2 crabs cut in half
6 fish balls  
4 or 5 large shrimp

In a deep frying pan, add oil, when warm saut√© tomato, onion, celery, pepper and carrots for about one minute. Add broth. To the broth add garlic, cilantro, chili pepper, lemon juice, oyster sauce, and salt.  When boiling add all seafood except shrimp.  Boil about 10 minutes. Add shrimp, boil until shrimp is pink. To serve remove seafood with a slotted spoon, place in bowl. Pour broth with veggies over it.  Garnish and serve.

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