After putting together a list of great seafood sandwiches in Chicago, I wanted to see if I could make a great torta using a filling from the sea. Sounds straightforward, right? Thing is, texture is absolutely crucial in torta construction, and fish has a tendency to turn to mush, especially when sandwiched between two slices of bread with a sauce drizzled on top. The way around this is to fry the fillets first, but with summer blazing outside, I didn't have the stomach to heat up a pot of oil.
Fortunately, all I had to do was focus on a different kind of sea creature. Shrimp maintain their juicy integrity even under an avalanche of toppings—no batter required. Plus I could cook them in a chipotle and tomato mixture, so the salsa was built right in.
This flavorful filling doesn't need much to top it, so I kept things simple. Lettuce is a standard torta addition, but I went with the more assertive bitter punch of arugula. Some may dislike the addition of ooey Oaxacan cheese (if so, you can easily leave it out) but I like how it brings all the components together.
- 4 bolillo rolls or sturdy hero rolls
- 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 canned chipotles en adobo
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 avocado, pit removed, flesh sliced
- 4 ounces Oaxacan cheese or Monterrey Jack, shredded
- 1 cup baby arugula leaves
Preheat oven to 300°F. Place rolls on sheet pan and transfer to the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Puree the drained tomatoes and chipotles in a blender or with a hand blender until smooth. Heat the canola oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high until shimmering. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Pour tomato mixture in and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to thick sauce, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt.
Reduce heat to medium and stir in shrimp. Let simmer on each side until they are pink and fully cooked, 3 to 4 minutes total. Turn off the heat.
Carefully remove rolls from the oven and cut each in half horizontally. Place a few slices of avocado on the cut-side of each bottom roll, and then top with a quarter of the shrimp mixture and a sprinkling of cheese and arugula. Spread some mayonnaise on the cut-side of each top, and then cap all the sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.