Albondigas de camaron are Mexican shrimp balls, simmered gently in a tomato-chile sauce. They’re easy to put together and make a great appetizer.
This recipe is from Sonora and is pretty common all along the Sea of Cortez. Other regions of Mexico have different versions of albondigas de camaron, some with green sauces, some with a heavy garlic sauce.
Any shrimp will work here, so don’t break the bank with something like spot prawns or royal reds. My advice is to buy frozen, shell-on, medium-sized Gulf shrimp — you’ll want to make a quick shrimp stock with the shells.
The general idea is to make the shrimp balls (the mix can be refrigerated for a few hours in advance), then make the sauce while you are letting the mixture rest. The sauce can also be made in advance.
There are a few specialty ingredients in my albondigas de camaron: Mexican oregano, masa harina and epazote. If you don’t have a Latin market around, use regular oregano.
Masa harina is powdered nixtamal, most often sold under the brand name Maseca. I don’t love that brand, so check for Bob’s Red Mill brand, as it’s better. If you are making things with masa frequently, it’s more than worth it to buy masa harina from Masienda.
If none of these options work for you, you can use flour or very fine cornmeal.
You cook the shrimp balls in a tomato-chile sauce that uses a quick shrimp stock from the shells. You can use my regular recipe for shrimp stock, or just simmer the shells with about 6 cups of water for 40 minutes.
Another great option to make a simpler meal would be to make the chochoyotes from my recipe for mole chichilo. Chochoyotes are little masa dumplings, and they can be cooked in the same sauce as the shrimp balls.
Or hell, just serve them with rice.
Once made, albondigas de camaron will keep a few days in the fridge before they get fishy. You can also freeze them, but I would cook them first in salty water, then cool, then freeze. Reheat frozen shrimp balls directly from the freezer.
Albondigas de Camaron
- 1 pound shrimp, with shells
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or other chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh epazote, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoon masa harina. or fine cornmeal
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 6 cups shrimp stock, or fish or crab stock, or clam juice
- 1/2 pound Roma roma tomatoes, or 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 white onion, minced
- 1 ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and rehydrated
- Lime juice and Mexican oregano, for garnish
- Shell the shrimp and save the shells for the stock. Either grind the shrimp coarsely in a meat grinder, pulse in a food processor, or chop them fine. I prefer the meat grinder.
- Mix all the ingredients together well in a bowl. It might be loose at first, but give it 20 minutes in the fridge before you add more masa harina. You will need to be able to form balls of this mix, but since masa takes time to absorb moisture, you won't know if it's too loose immediately.
- Once you're good with the mix, make it into balls. Your choice on size. I like to go with a 1/4 cup and make them large, but a tablespoon is also a nice size.
- While the shrimp ball mixture is hydrating in the fridge, make the sauce. Start by covering the shells with 6 cups of water, bring it to a simmer and add salt to taste. Let this cook gently while you make the shrimp balls. Once the shells have simmered 20 to 30 minutes (all this can be done ahead), strain it and set it aside.
- While the stock is simmering, saute the onion in the olive oil until it's soft, but not browned. Add this to a blender.
- Add the ancho chile, the tomato, salt and some of the stock to the blender and puree. Add the rest of the stock and mix well. Adjust the salt.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and gently drop in the shrimp balls. Let them simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes. Add lime juice to taste, and garnish with Mexican oregano or cilantro.
Keys to Success
- Bonus Step: Char the onion and the tomatoes on a griddle until blackened, then puree. This is a nice step I do often. If you do this, skip the olive oil.
- You can add garlic to the sauce if you want. Or you can make it hotter by using other dried chiles, like guajillo, pasilla or by adding a few arbol chiles to the mix.
- If your blender isn’t fantastic, you might want to push the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any stray bits of seed or skin from the chiles, which are indigestible.