Gigantic Shrimp Dinner

(I know – you think that ‘gigantic shrimp’ is an oxymoron — maybe, but if you don’t cook this week’s recipe, you’re just plain nuts)

July 13 – July 19, 2020

Monday and Tuesday involved leftovers – wonderful leftovers (BBQ Chicken, Zucchini and Zucchini Casserole to which we added a broccoli slaw) but not terribly photogenic

ragout (2)

Wednesday:            White Bean and Celery Ragout with Pesto

Midnight bolognese (4)

Thursday:                 Midnight Bolognese with Rigatoni, Crostini, Arugula

caprese recent

Caprese salad with leftover celery ragout – Lunch

Friday:                       Leftover Bolognese

citrus shrimp

Saturday:                  Citrus Shrimp with Rice and Lettuce and Cucumber Salad

Grilled swordfish

Sunday:                     Grilled Swordfish with Wine-Bottle Sauce,

Grilled Tomatoes and Potatoes, Arugula with Lemon and Oil

In spite of all the leftovers we ate last week, we still made four dishes you would do well to cook:  A simple, savory white bean and celery ragout which you can throw together during commercials for your nightly news program – A quick Bolognese which offers such deep flavor that you could anchor a red-sauce restaurant with it – Shrimp so crisply fried that you can eat the tails, with a sauce so lip-smacking that you’ll want to – And a grilled swordfish good enough to serve to the great Eric Rippert once he’s laid aside his toque and his finicky entrees of picture-perfect fish and just wants to kick back with a some wine (he’s French) and a good meal.

How to choose?  Well, the swordfish recipe is already in our archives (July 5, 2017):  Swordfish with wine bottle sauce (https://whatwecookedlastweek.com/2017/07/05/simple-food-family-and-friends/).  And the white bean and celery ragout is available on-line from the New York Times ‘At Home’ section of July 12, 2020.

But that still leaves us with a toss-up between the shrimp and the Bolognese.  We’re going to pocket the Bolognese for some time when the weather is less tropical and give you a dish which is best served to people in shorts and Hawaiian shirts who are drinking shots of Tequila with Corona chasers.

There is, as usual, a story behind our choice of all these dishes.  But the shrimp took the most energy to winkle out of all the recipes, books and food magazines we have accumulated over the years.  What it was, was that I had gotten back from a round of golf with Ambrose and Thomas Kevin so far south of Pittsburgh that we were no longer in Allegheny County.  I was fairly whipped by the heat, the $$#!!&** game of golf, a lovely IPA we shared after the round, and the sheer monotony of the drive back north.  After a good hosing down, I drifted off to a totally undeserved, but refreshing rest and didn’t regain consciousness again until near 7:00 p.m.

What to do for dinner?  Well, I began by knocking back that consciousness with a stiff martini.  Then I foraged through the refrigerator, finding a bag of large, frozen shrimp, deveined but with tails attached (the best shrimp for cooking).  After that, a fairly painful trip down to my office (golf does not treat my knees kindly) to root through recipes and old magazines eventually unearthing a copy of bon appétit from November of 2018 which displayed a mouth-watering picture of crispy, browned and perfectly curled shrimp (tails on) with a bowl of citrusy salad and a halved avocado nearby.

All of that by way of saying that we had the ingredients and, by now, the hunger to make a memorable meal of what bon appétit calls ‘Citrus Shrimp Rice Bowls,’ but which we will call Crispy Citrus Shrimp with Rice and Citrus Salad.  (I am constitutionally incapable of calling my dinners ‘rice bowls’ or ‘grain bowls’ or ‘Jennie’s Cozy Comfort Chicken’ or ‘Bob’s Finger-Lickin’ Squid’  or ‘Ragin, Cajun Wings,’ or anything too cute.  I cook food, by God, and that’s a serious business.)

citrus shrimps (2)

CRISPY CITRUS SHRIMP WITH RICE AND CITRUS SALAD

(adapted from bon appétit, November, 2018)

Timing:

About 45 minutes (includes 10 minutes to thaw and dry shrimp), if you cook the rice while prepping the shrimp and salad.

Ingredients:                                       Serves 4

Note:  we made this for 2, but didn’t reduce the marinade, rice or salad, just the shrimp.

½ cup fresh orange juice (1 or 2 oranges).
2 large oranges for salad
1 ½ lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Persian cucumbers (or English hothouse or a bunch of those little babies they now sell in supermarkets), quartered lengthwise and sliced into ½” thick pieces.
4 scallions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Sriracha
1 Tbsp Honey
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp lime juice (2 limes)

Steamed rice and sliced avocados for serving.  The rice is necessary, the avocado is a nice touch.

Prep:

Thaw shrimp in bowl with a running stream of cold water from the tap – 10 minutes.  Then dry the shrimp, squeezing lightly (you don’t want to break it) to remove excess moisture.

Cook enough rice for 4.  (The rice will stay warm for a while, so do this right after you begin to thaw the shrimp.)

Make the marinade (dressing):

Whisk orange juice, Sriracha, honey, soy sauce, 1 Tbsp of lime juice and ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a bowl large enough to accommodate the shrimp.  Put half of the dressing in a bowl for serving with the dinner.  Then put the shrimp in the bowl with the remaining marinade and toss to coat.  Season with a bit of salt and marinate, tossing occasionally, for 15 minutes or so.

Now remove the peel and pith from the large oranges, then slice into ½” thick rounds and cut those into 3/4” pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and add the cucumbers, scallions, and remaining tsp. of lime juice.  Toss to combine and season with salt.

Cook the shrimp and serve:

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high, depending on your cook-top, until hot.  Cook the shrimp until charred in spots and cooked through – say, 3 minutes per side.  Work in batches if necessary.

Divide the rice among plates or bowls, top with the shrimp, some citrus salad and avocado slices and drizzle with reserved dressing (marinade).

If you have cooked the shrimp correctly, there will be some char on them and – I kid you not – the tails will be delicious and crunchy.