By Joan Amundsen
Did someone mention shrimp for dinner? I love shrimp. When I think about it, I can almost taste that succulent, hot and juicy sautéed shrimp that has been bathed in a garlicky lemon sauce, or icy cold shrimp, dipped in the spiced up cocktail sauce that my dad was so famous for.
When I was young my mother would bread and fry shrimp in lots of fat in an old iron fry pan, and serve it with dad’s hot sauce. In those days there wasn’t any talk about calories, cholesterol levels or clogged arteries.
But times have changed. Today people choose to eat healthy and the preparation of food is streamlined. You can buy your shrimp fresh, frozen, cooked, raw, cleaned, tail removed, almost any way you want. It is up to the cook. And we can now have our shrimp all year round.
Most often, I prefer to buy shrimp frozen raw, shelled and cleaned, and cook it myself. Shrimp cooks quickly and if you don’t watch your timing you will end up with a tough chewy crustacean. I have found that many times when buying shrimp frozen and already cooked, as used for a shrimp cocktail, the thawed shrimp tends to become soggy and not very tasty.
Always defrost your frozen shrimp before cooking. Remove from plastic bag and place in a colander. Give it a few quick swishes with cool water until it thaws. Thawing it in the fridge will leave the shrimp a bit soggy.
For a Shrimp Cocktail: For a pound of shrimp, bring about three quarts of water to a boil. Add a dash of lemon juice and add all the shrimp. Simmer gently about three minutes. Watch the shrimp. They will turn a light pink as they cook. As soon as they are done remove them from the cooking water, and run under cold water to drain. That’s it. Chill and serve with hot sauce.
Dad’s Hot Sauce; Mix ½ cup catsup and 2 Tbs. horseradish. Add a ½ tsp. of lemon juice and ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce. Taste and adjust to your liking. If it is not spicy enough, you can add a drop or two of hot sauce. A tip: If you are serving the shrimp as an appetizer, line a martini glass with lettuce, add a dollop of hot sauce, and hang the shrimp around the edge of the glass. Top with half of a lemon slice and you’re ready to serve.
One of my favorite comfort foods is my version of sautéed shrimp using the following recipe. Run cool water over a serving of shrimp to thaw. When thawed, place on paper towel to dry.
1 Tbs. lemon juice 2 Tbs. olive oil
1/3 tsp. minced garlic A pinch of salt and pepper
Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir until mixed. Add the one portion of shrimp and stir until all is coated. Let shrimp sit in the marinade about half an hour. The shrimp will begin to take on a pink hue around the edges. That is caused by the lemon juice which is already beginning to ‘cook’ the shrimp. Heat a nonstick fry pan and add a teaspoon of olive oil. Place the shrimp in a single layer in the pan and sauté a few minutes on each side. Add a spoonful of marinade over the shrimp if needed until they are done. Remove shrimp, turn heat down and add the rest of the marinade to the fry pan, including all those little bits of garlic that remain. You can also add a dash of white wine to the pan. Stir gently but do not allow the sauce to turn brown. Serve the shrimp and sauce over cooked rice, or transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Add a green salad and crusty bread and you’re done.
If you are planning a company dinner, why not prepare shrimp jambalaya. It’s a little more work, but so worth the effort. You will need a three-quart fry pan with a tight-fitting lid.
1 lb. of cooked, coarsely chopped shrimp, set aside.
Heat pan over low heat and add
2 Tbs. butter or margarine.
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. of minced garlic
1/2 pound of diced cooked ham or kielbasa
Cook over medium heat until onion is transparent.
Add to pan and blend in;
3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups of chopped cooked tomatoes
1 Tbs. parsley flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. chili powder (optional)
1 bay leaf
Cover and bring to boiling. Gradually add
1 cup rice (not instant)
Simmer covered about 20 minutes or until a rice kernel is soft when pressed between fingers.
Add cooked shrimp and simmer another five minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve hot. The longer you keep this pan on the fire, even to just keep it warm, the more liquid you will need. Serves 6 to 8
A pino grigio wine pairs well with any shrimp dish.
There are so many things you can do with shrimp. From shrimp bisque, to grilled shrimp, to stir fry, I love them all. It may take a little more of your time to prepare some of the dishes, but in the long run isn’t it worth it?