While in La Quinta, CA in November 2019 (it seems so long ago), we headed over to Indio with our friends, Dan and Sandy, to have dinner at El Mexicali Café. They introduced us to “Chilis Gueritos Rellenos de Camarón,” a specialty of the café; and gueritos have become a favourite appetizer at home ever since. It is difficult to duplicate the El Mexicali version, but this recipe comes fairly close, especially good with a margarita in hand.

Here is what you need (assuming there are four of you):

• 16 small red, orange and yellow peppers (small peppers may not always be available so 8 larger peppers will suffice)
• a pound of small, hand-peeled shrimp
• 8 ounces of soft goat cheese
• finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves (or dry)
• Old Bay Seasoning
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup soy sauce

Place the peppers on parchment paper on a sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, in a 350 degree F oven, until slightly soft. Set aside to cool.

In a skillet, lightly sauté the shrimp in olive oil, stirring in the minced garlic, Old Bay, and cilantro. Remove from heat, cool and add the goat cheese and 2 tablespoons or more of mayonnaise, mixing well. Fill your peppers with the shrimp/cheese/mayo mixture and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, until the peppers get quite soft.

Now comes the interesting part. Mayonnaise and soy sauce are not usually associated with Mexican food, but both help to make the gueritos truly outstanding. Place a dollop of mayo over each pepper, followed by a half teaspoon or so of soy sauce. You can attack the peppers with a knife and fork, or bravely try to pick them up with your fingers. Have a napkin close by …