Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shrimp Tips & Recipes

Shrimp season is from May to October. There are over 300 species whose flavors and textures are influenced by the waters in which they lived, the foods they ate and their ability to swim freely or not. Here are some tips on how to select, store and cook shrimp.

Tip#1: Pre-cooked, Fresh or Frozen Shrimp?
For many years I served pre-cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce. Sometimes the shrimp were pretty good, sometimes it had that carton texture and little to no flavor.  So, I tried cooking it myself, and would never buy pre-cooked again.  Fresh shrimp, on the other hand, is highly perishable! Unless you can actually buy "truly fresh" shrimp and cook it within 24-36 hours, it is best to buy frozen shrimp.

Tip#2: What to avoid
Avoid shrimp that smells of anything other than salt water. An ammonia odor is a sign of shrimp way past its prime. Truly fresh shrimp will have almost translucent flesh. Do not buy raw shrimp that is already pink or frozen shrimp that has been peeled and deveined before freezing (this robs the shrimp of flavor, changes the texture and limits the cooking possibilities)

Tip #3: Defrosting Frozen Shrimp
Defrost shrimp either in the refrigerator or in ice cold water. Never defrost in a warm place or microwave.

Tip # 4: How To De-vein Shrimp
The black "vein" that runs along the back of the shrimp is its digestive tract which is technically edible; but shrimp look and taste very better when de-veined!.
 Shrimp cook well in or out of their shells, but are easier to de-vein before cooking. Remove shell and run a de-veiner or the tip of a small knife down the back of the shrimp cutting in just enough to enable you to remove the vein.

Tip # 5: How To Freeze Shrimp
Freeze fresh shrimp raw in their shells with heads removed.

Tip # 6: How To Boil Shrimp:
Shrimp’s sweet delicate flavors are easily be ruined by overcooking. Place a pound of shrimp in a quart of rapidly boiling water with three tablespoons of salt.
Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and return to a boil. Let simmer until the flesh has lost its glossy appearance and is opaque in center (cut one to test). Timing varies so keep checking the appearance. Jumbo shrimp take 5 to 7 minutes, large shrimp take from 4 to 6 minutes, and medium size can be done in 2 to 3 minutes. Drain quickly when ready. Do not let shrimp cool in their cooking liquid or they will continue to cook and get tough. (My preferred recipe for shrimp cocktail is below.)

Tip # 5: How To Grill Shrimp:  Once the grill is hot, place the large shrimp (or skewered small shrimp) on the grill, leaving room between shrimp (or skewers). Brush with a little olive oil and then sprinkle them with salt, and pepper. Grill for 2 minutes and turn, grill for another minute or two or until they are pink. Remove from the heat and serve.

Gerard’s Wine Suggestions
 Preferably choose a dry white wine, on the fruit and relatively simple.
Pinot Grigio Era 2009 from Veneto – 100% Pinot Grigio Hints of apples, gentle citrus notes and a long smooth finish. Easy to drink. $15 @ Village Wine in Millbrook
Pouilly Fumé Les Charmes Chatelain 2009 from the Loire Valley – 100% Sauvignon Blanc Very discreet, aroma of young Sauvignon, flinty with toast and vanilla flavors. $18 @ Village Wine in Millbrook.
Riesling Zind-Humbrecht 2008 from Alsace – 100% Riesling
A well-cut Riesling, offering a salty mineral note and laserlike acidity that defines the quince, yellow peach and floral notes. $23.99 @ Arlington Wine in Poughkeepsie.

Best Shrimp Cocktail
The day before (or at least 6 hours prior to) serving fresh shrimp, take them out of their shells. Wash and place shells in water with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer shells for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, de-vein shrimp, keeping at room temperature. Discard the shells. Bring the liquid back to a boil.  Place medium size shrimp in boiling water for 1 minute and thirty seconds, or large and jumbo shrimp for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Dipping Sauce
Small bottle of Cocktail Sauce
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon
Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper
1 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

At the bottom of small bowl, place mustard and egg yolk. Whisk. Add salt & pepper. Slowly drizzle a little peanut oil into egg yolk mixture whisking briskly. As the sauce thickens and lightens it is emulsifying. Continue to whisk as you slowly drizzle the rest of peanut oil into the mixture. It should become thick and fluffy holding its own shape. Whisk in vinegar. Congratulations! You just made your own mayonnaise, and I am willing to bet that it is better than anything you can find in a jar! Mix with a ratio of 3 parts mayo and one part cccktail sauce.  Serve with the shrimp

Shrimp & Rice with Shallots (This is the recipe that is requested most often by my guests)
serves 4-6

24 unshelled cleaned (deveined) jumbo shrimp
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup dry white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves
3-4 cups of warm cooked rice (follow package directions)

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Add shrimp, season with salt & pepper and cook until pink (for 2-3 minutes) stirring from time to time. Transfer shrimp to a warm platter. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan with shallots and the wine. Boil until liquid has thickened and reduced to about half. Add cream and mustard and cook for another 2 minutes. Take off the heat and add shrimp to the sauce. Stir. Add remaining butter, sprinkle parsley and serve immediately over rice. 

 If you have tried any of my recipes, please let me know how it went at

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