This Christmas Eve, escape the cold (and your family, if you need to) and head to Cafe el Presidente or Tacombi at Fonda Nolita for their one-day-only Mexican Christmas Eve menu. Led by executive chef Jason DeBriere, offerings will include bacalao a la viscaína, or traditional salt cod prepared with capers, olives, raisins and tomato and a chile en nogado taco topped with an almond and goat cheese salsa.
They’ll also be serving up hot drinks including Mexican hot chocolate and champurrado, a chocolate-based beverage thickened with corn masa and sweetened with piloncillo, a solid unrefined whole cane sugar derived from boiling and evaporating sugarcane juice. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and it’s worth taking a break from your crazed last-minute shopping to sip some chocolate and fill your stomach.
And if you miss this special service, or just prefer to make your own tacos at home, we highly recommend chef DeBriere’s mole camerones, or shrimp mole with picked red onion (escabeche morado) from Mexico: The Cookbook. He contributed to this Mexican cuisine tome as a guest chef and his recommendations are just as alluring as the rest of the pages of this comprehensive 700-plus page whopper. If you’re still looking for holiday gifts, it gets our approval along with the rest of our holiday book gift guide.
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes soaking
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
8 poblano chiles, dry-roasted
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 head garlic
Sea salt and pepper
1½ lbs/680g fresh shrimp (prawns), shelled and deveined
Oil, for oiling
Fresh tortillas, to serve
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pickled red onion (recipe below)
In a small bowl, add the chiles and enough hot water to cover them and soak for 15 minutes.
To make the sauce, dry-roast the onion and garlic and puree the mixture with the chiles and some of the hydrating liquid until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the shrimp (prawns) with salt and pepper, and then with the mole sauce. Be sure to coat it well. Oil a hot ridged (griddle) pan and sauté the shrimp until just cooked through. Serve on fresh tortillas and garnish with pickled red onion and cilantro (coriander).
Pickled red onion
Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus 1 hour cooling
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
2 allspice berries
Pinch of dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Scant 2 cups (15 fl oz/450 ml) apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
2 red onions, thinly sliced
Combine all the ingredients except the red onion in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Bring back to a boil and pour the mixture over the sliced red onion. Let cool at room temperature.