Monday, June 27, 2016

Ginger-Lime Shrimp (and a Lesson in "Deveining")

There are so many things I love about living on the ocean, but I have to say that one of the best things is the insanely fresh seafood that I can get at a seafood shop that is on the way home from picking up Captain Reiton at the airport.

The first time I went into this restaurant/shop—Belle Isle Seafood—I (somehow? There are only signs EVERYWHERE) didn't notice that they only take cash. When I went to pay with my CREDIT CARD, the girl very graciously explained that she was unable to accept it as a form of payment—this being after a five minute conversation about how much I loved living here after being in the Midwest for so long, and blah blah blah....

So, being embarrassed but being me, I made fun of myself and then asked her if she could just keep my salmon in the case and I would run back later with cash to pick it up. To this she responded (and I quote):
"Oh, no, just take it with you. You can just pay later."

Am I serious??? Yes, I'm serious.  This is the kind of town I live in. It's small. People trust you, or they will kick your ass. And I love it.

So. As I was saying: I also love the seafood, so the other night I bought a pound of fresh shrimp at Belle Isle to sauté up for dinner.  Being fresh, the shrimp weren't processed like they are when you buy them frozen or from the seafood case at the grocery store. That meant they simply had their heads cut off, and that was it. They still had their little legs. Their full, unsplit shells. Their little poopy intestine down the center of their back...

So I shelled them. Ripped off their little legs. And then—I discovered the BEST way to "devein" the shrimp!!! 

(Why is it called "deveining," by the way? It's an intestine, NOT a vein. Are they afraid to call it "de-pooping" a shrimp? Because that is what you are doing, really...)

Now, here's the problem that I've always had about shrimp that I have bought frozen that have been deveined: in the processing of the shrimp, they are practically butterflied. They are sliced open the whole way down their spine so that they flay open when they cook.

I don't want shrimp that look like butterflies on my plate. I want shrimp that look like shrimp on my plate, damn it. Appearance is very much a big deal to me when it comes to cooking, and I have always found it so unattractive to be eating shrimp that look like they've been attacked by the SNL Samurai.

SO. As I was finishing peeling and de-legging my shrimp, I wondered if I really had to slice a shrimp the entire way down it's spine to devein it...

I took a paring knife, inserted the tip blade-up into the middle of the shrimp "neck," so to speak, and sliced upwards, making about a quarter-inch long cut.  Now I could see the poop tract laying right there...

I reached in with my fingertips, grabbed the end of the "vein," and very gently but firmly pulled...

VOILA!!! It slid out! The whole thing! I had an entire shrimp in my left hand and an intestine dangling from my right! No flaying necessary!

Now I had perfectly whole, beautiful shrimp, ready to be marinated and sautéed for dinner. 

And speaking of dinner, wowzers, have I got a shrimp dish that will knock your socks off. I very slightly adapted it from Melissa Joulwan's cookbook, Well Fed. If you are looking for flavorful but easy and fast, this is it. 

If you are in a super rush, make the marinade first before you deal with your shrimp, then toss your shrimp into the marinade bowl as you clean them up. Then, as your shrimp are marinating for 20 minutes or so, you can get the rest of your sides together. Shrimp only take a few minutes to cook completely, so depending on your sides, you could have dinner on the table in about 45 minutes, from start to chow-time.

As I've pointed out with so many recipes lately, use the quantities and ingredients you have. You do NOT need to follow ingredients and measurements here exactly. It will still taste good, I promise. But here's what I used:

Ingredients for 2-3 people:
  • 1 lb. of fresh shrimp, shelled completely and "deveined" (I also give them a rinse)
  • juice from 2 juicy limes (smooth skin, heavy, feel squishy)
  • fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated on a zester or minced up, about 1 1/2-in. worth
  • a jalapeño, seeded and minced, or a tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves, finely grated on a zester or minced
  • about a quarter cup of minced cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tblsp. olive oil

Steps to Make:

1.  Combine the lime juice, ginger root, jalapeño or flakes, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk together with a fork. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk rapidly to blend with the juice mixture. This is your marinade.

2.  Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss really, really well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for 20-30 minutes but nor really any more than 45 minutes. The lime juice will cook the shrimp. Really.

3. When your sides for dinner are almost done, heat up a large skillet on the stove on medium-high. When it is nice and hot, dump the entire contents of the bowl into the skillet. Shake the skillet to create a single even layer of shrimp. Cook for about two minutes. You will see the shrimp turning pink and starting to curl. Stir the shrimp to blend them with the sauce and to flip them onto their other side (you might need to help some of them a little). Shake the pan to make your even layer again, and cook for another 2 minutes or so.

4. Platter the shrimp and garnish with some cilantro fronds or torn cilantro leaves.

That's it! Super fast. Super easy. Super delicious! You could also skewer the shrimp and grill them, too... YUM.

Word of advice: just don't overcook them. Fresh shrimp are so tender. I had no idea. If you cook them too long, they will get rubbery and weird. Don't panic about the short cooking time. If the shrimp is all pink and curling, it's DONE.

And I promise to make something shrimpy this week and video the whole de-pooping for you...

*UPDATE: I made the video! Click here to read a more descriptive post on how to devein shrimp and to watch the video

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