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Shrimp, Shrimp, and more Shrimp

10 Apr

I have been eating ridiculous amounts of shrimp lately.  And I couldn’t tell you why… other than that it just sounds *good* all of the time, all of a sudden.  Although, in defense of my food-rut/obsession, each dish has been very different.  I mean, does this dish look anything like the shrimp dish below?

Shrimp Tempura with Miso-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Tempura Shrimp with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Nope, no, sir.  Didn’t think so.  And, really, would it even matter, with a recipe for Tempura Shrimp this good?  Just a hint, the secret is booze.  Of course.

Tempura Shrimp with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce, adapted from the May/June Cook’s Illustrated, serves 2

  • 1 quart canola oil
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 egg, yes, seriously
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup seltzer water
  • kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°.  At the same time, place the canola oil in a large pot, and heat it to 385º.
  2. While the oil and oven heat, prepare the tempura batter.  In one bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch together.  In a second bowl, whisk the vodka and egg together, and then add the seltzer water.  Don’t mix the two halves of the batter together until the oil is heated.  Also, at this time, make two small cuts on the underbelly of the shrimp, so that they lay flatter, and don’t curl up as much.
  3. Another step when the oil and oven are heating is to make the ginger-soy dipping sauce.  In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, toasted sesame oil, garlic, fresh ginger, and the scallion.  Stir to combine, and set aside for serving.
  4. Once the oil is to 385°, combine the two halves of the tempura batter; whisking lightly.  It’s fine if some lumps remain.  Then, add the shrimp to the tempura batter, tossing to coat each piece.  Using tongs to remove shrimp one at a time, and allowing the excess batter to drip off, add them carefully to the oil (the oil should now be at 400°).  Fry, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Once done, remove from oil, and place on a paper towel lined plate, and sprinkle with salt.  After the paper towels absorb the excess oil, place the shrimp on a wire rack set in a baking sheet, and place in the oven to keep warm and crisp.  Once the oil gets back up to temperature, repeat the process with the remaining shrimp.
  5.  If there is any excess batter, you can fry up vegetables of any sort, as well.  I used some snow peas, and they were delicious.  Once all finished, serve the tempura shrimp and vegetables with the ginger-soy dipping sauce.  On the side, I added peanut soba noodles.  Enjoy!

Tempura Shrimp


Attempting Gravlax…

5 Apr

Lent. Otherwise known as the 40-day push for expanding your fish horizons, right? Why else would I think it perfectly reasonable to make gravlax, just for an appetizer, just for one night, just for two people? But, I am glad that Lent pushed me to attempt it.

Gravlax, pre-cure

Gravlax, ready to cure

After the first night, I found myself having this for breakfast with eggs, as a snack on crackers with a horseradish-dill sour cream sauce, on buttered toast anytime, and, well, serving it with just about anything and everything. And it worked!

Gravlax with Horseradish-Dill Sour Cream

Coriander-Dill Gravlax, adapted from Fish Without a Doubt.

  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coriander seeds, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 (1.5-pound) piece wild salmon fillet, skin on, pinbones removed

First, mix the salt, sugar, dill and coriander in a bowl. Next, cut a strip of plastic wrap a little more than twice the length of the salmon and set it on a baking dish. Cut a second strip, this time a little more than twice the width of the salmon, and set it cross-wise on the center of the first piece. After the plastic wrap is ready, spread about 1/3 of the salt cure across the center of the plastic and set the salmon on top of it. Then, cover the salmon with the remainder of the cure and wrap the plastic tightly around the fish. Set a second baking dish/sheet on top of the salmon package, placing weights on top. I used a few cans of tomatoes, which seemed to work perfectly fine. At this point, the baking dish contraption should go into the refrigerator; it should refrigerate for 36 hours. The salmon will give off a lot of liquid, and it can be poured off halfway through the cure if desired. Once cured, after 36 hours, scrape off the solids and rinse the salmon, drying it well with paper towels. It can be served immediately, or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and kept for about a week. Enjoy!

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta

27 Mar

Weeknight dinners are always a challenge.  I don’t generally get home until after 6:30 and I am already *starving* when I do!  So, I am trying to learn to create delicious, but quick, meals for me to rely on, and that won’t necessitate a trip to the grocery store to make.  Because, you know, that just pushes back dinner!  Of course, yes, I could plan my meals in advance, and I could buy everything I need during the weekend, but really!  Creativity just goes out the door at that point.  Plus, I’m indecisive and making decisions that far in advance?  Oh, my.  Just.  Not.  Happening.

Last night’s dinner definitely fit these criteria, and I’ll definitely by making it again.  So flavorful, and it took a mere 30 minutes to get on the table!  And only ten minutes for me to figure out.  Since some frozen (uncooked) shrimp were the only protein the boyfriend and I had in the house, I started from there.  I then realized that I also had a fairly large supply of garlic, and that that went perfectly with shrimp.  So, I started searching for a garlic shrimp recipe, and came across a perfect one on Cook’s Illustrated.   Using that as a base for modification, this was the end product…

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta, serves 2

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 3 oz. micro greens
  • 6 oz. of capellini (angel hair) pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 14 large uncooked shrimp, tails and shells removed and reserved
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup vermouth
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • salt
  • pepper 
  1. On one back burner, begin heating a large pot of salted water to cook the pasta.  Watch the water while preparing the rest of the dish, and when boiling add pasta and cook for the recommended time (5-6 minutes for capellini), or until al dente.  Drain, and set aside.
  2. On the other back burner, place the 1/2 cups water and shrimp tails/shells in a small pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Checking periodically, cook until mixture has reduced to 1/2 cup, then strain out the shrimp tails/shells and set the shrimp stock aside.
  3. On a front burner, melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  While the butter is melting, mix the bread crumbs with the shallots, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  Once the butter is melted, add the bread crumb mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes.  Transfer to plate to cool, and mix in the micro greens.  Wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
  4. Meanwhile, dry shrimp thoroughly and toss with sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  Return your front skillet to medium high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat until shimmering.  Add the shrimp and and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 3 minutes (do not flip shrimp).  Remove skillet from heat, and transfer the shrimp to a waiting plate.  Again, wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
  5. Return skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter.  When the butter is melted, add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic just begins to turn golden, about 1 minute.  Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high and slowly whisk in the vermouth and shrimp stock. Bring to simmer and cook until mixture reduces to 3/4 cup, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Lastly, stir in the lemon juice.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, return the shrimp to the pan, and toss to combine.  Cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Toss the shrimp and sauce with the drained pasta, then add the breadcrumb and micro-green mix.  Once combined, serve on plates with additional lemon wedges if so desired.

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Pea Shoots

22 Mar

One of my favorite things about getting vegetables from a CSA is that you often get things that you’ve never cooked with before and probably would never have picked up on your own from the grocery store. And that you then use as inspiration for an entire meal. That was the case with the Black Spanish Radish, which I turned into a delicious fresh vegetable slaw with yellow carrots, red onions, and cabbage, and which in turn was a perfect foil for a rich, creamy, Panko-Crusted Macaroni and Cheese. Same for the Watermelon Radishes, that become a multicolor garnish for some fabulous fish tacos.

And that is the case now, with the Pea Shoots. Once I had them in hand, I knew that they had to be showcased somehow. After playing around with a few ideas, this is what I came up with: Seared Sea Scallops with Sautéed Pea Shoots, Garlic Chips, Beer-Butter Sauce, and a Pea Shoot Gremolata.

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Pea Shoots

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Pea Shoots (serves 2)

  • 5-6 sea scallops, dry packed
  • 6 oz. pea shoots
  • 5 cloves garlic, 2 minced and three thinly sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, zested, about 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

First, combine the lemon zest, the 2 minced garlic cloves, and one tablespoon of minced pea shoots for the gremolata, and set aside. Next, take the sea scallops and after making sure that the tough ligament is removed, season them with salt and freshly ground pepper. In one medium skillet, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and heat it on medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Cook until crisp and browned, about 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the oil in the skillet. At the same time, on another burner set to medium-high, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Once that is melted and bubbling, and the pan is fully heated, add the scallops. Once a good golden sear has developed, after about only 40 (to maximum 60) seconds, flip the scallop, and repeat the process. Scallops cook quite quickly, and you don’t want to overcook them. Really, once that golden sear is present, and they wiggle just a bit less, you are set. Once done, remove the scallops from the pan, and set aside. Quickly, in the still hot pan, de-glaze with some beer, I used Red Stripe as that was what I was currently imbibing, and quickly reduce the sauce. At the same time, add the rest of the pea shoots to the skillet that you cooked the garlic in with the reserved oil. Stir the pea shoots in the oil, and once wilted, after about a minute, remove from the heat. This whole process goes by in just a few minutes, so this is a fast, quick, and very easy meal. To assemble the dish, place the wilted pea shoots on the plate, topped with the garlic chips strewn about. Then, place a scallop (or two) in the middle, and drizzle the beer-butter reduction on top. Lastly, place a small mound of the pea shoot gremolata on top of the scallops as a garnish. And a delicious dinner is served. In about 15 minutes.