Peruvian Quinoa Shrimp Chicharrones with Green Aji Sauce


Chicharrones are a popular fried snack in Peru, and some chefs there are serving them with quinoa in the coating. This is a lighter version, using the technique of oven-frying to keep the coating from soaking up oil. The quinoa has a wonderful crunch, even without frying. I used red quinoa for a dramatic look, but regular quinoa will work just as well.


  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and stemmed (2 cups leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 16 jumbo shrimp or prawns, tails on, deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

    How to make it 

  • 1

    Make the sauce first. In a food processor or blender, finely mince the jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro. Add the lime juice and purée. Drizzle in the olive oil to make a smooth sauce. Reserve.

  • 2

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. After rinsing the quinoa, add it to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, then drain. Spread the quinoa out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry. It should be quite dry to the touch; pat it with towels if necessary.

  • 3

    Pat the shrimp dry, if damp, and put it in a medium bowl. Mix the oregano, cumin, and cayenne and sprinkle over the shrimp; toss to coat.

  • 4

    Preheat the oven to 425°F. Prepare 2 pie pans, one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs. Dip the shrimp in the flour, then the egg, then the quinoa. Place 2 heavy baking pans in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Take each out, spray liberally with oil, then quickly place the shrimp on the hot pans, keeping them from touching. Spray the coated shrimp with oil, and bake for 5 minutes. Flip the shrimp with tongs, then bake for 5 minutes more. Cut one through the thickest part to make sure they are cooked through. The baking time will vary with the size of the shrimp.

  • 5

    Serve the shrimp hot with the aji sauce. Serves 4.

Robin Asbell, The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes Using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Other Delicious and Nutritious Grains, Chronicle Books (2007)

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