(June 28, 2019) There was a time when I would have never considered serving frozen seafood, but experience has convinced me to change my stubborn ways.
Wrong choices are a given, the goal is to learn from them.
That being said, I have altered my approach and only use frozen shrimp. They are much more cost effective and yield a fabulous product.
In case you have not guessed, shrimp are the subject of the day.
Whenever one purchases shrimp, there is always a set of numbers divided by a slash. This number, called the count, tells you the size of the shrimp.
The count refers to the numbers of individual shrimp in one pound. So, if the label reads 16/20, you can expect to get 16 to 20 shrimp.
Each species of shrimp has their own characteristics and it is important for a chef to understand this. In other words, the flavor and texture of shrimp are influenced by the waters they come from and what they eat.
For example, wild shrimp feed on seaweed and crustaceans which gives them a more enriched taste and they also have thicker shells. This type of shrimp is great where the shrimp will be the “star” and not covered up with a heavy sauce.
In addition, the cooking time will need to be slightly increased if they are steamed with the shells.
Whether or not shrimp should be deveined is really not a consideration. Always devein shrimp whenever possible.
The black “vein” that runs along the back of the shrimp is actually its digestive tract. These veins are edible but if eaten they can taste gritty and dirty, particularly with larger shrimp.
If one is going to grill shrimp, it is advisable to brine them.
Stir in 1/8 cup of kosher salt and 1/8 cup of sugar into 1 cup of boiling water. Add the dissolved mixture into a bowl of ice.
Place the raw shrimp into the bowl and refrigerate 40 to 60 minutes. Rinse well and continue with the grilling process.
Overcooking shrimp is the most common mistake for the novice chef. Shrimp should be cooked quickly in order to preserve their sweet, delicate flavors.
As soon as the flesh turns opaque, remove from the heat source. Place shrimp on a cooling rack to stop the cooking process.
A reminder of shrimp etiquette is always welcomed. If one orders a shrimp cocktail in a restaurant, an oyster fork should be provided and used. Do not pick up the shrimp with your fingers.
When eating Oriental dishes that include shrimp, remove the tail with a knife and fork and set it to the side of your plate or on a separate “discard plate” if one is provided.
Shrimp salad is a favorite at the beach and a few tips will ensure perfection. Celery and onions have a lot of natural moisture and it is imperative to remove this, otherwise, you will end up with a soggy mess after several hours.
Simply place the chopped vegetables in paper towels and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Also, presentation is just as important as the taste itself. Use 16/20 ct. shrimp and keep the shrimp whole as opposed to coarsely chopping them.
The salad will look much more elegant and will highlight the theme of shrimp.
If you are having a large gathering, consider serving a spoonful of shrimp salad on a Chinese soup spoon as a passed hors d’oeuvre. This will add a touch of sophistication and at the same time keep the costs down.
The Fourth of July is here and a special day deserves a special dish. Succulent shrimp salad topped with a dusting of Old Bay is sure to go over with a big “bang!” Enjoy.
2 pounds uncooked deveined shrimp (16-20 ct.)
1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
½ cup minced sweet onion
1 ½ cups chopped celery
several pinches Old Bay seasoning
1. Place shrimp in a bowl of cold water and remove shells and tails.
2. Steam shrimp over medium heat. As soon as they turn opaque, remove and place them on a cooling rack. This will help them cool down faster so they do not overcook. After they have cooled, blot with paper towels.
3. Using paper towels, squeeze out the excess liquid in the onions and celery.
4. In a large bowl, lightly toss the mayo, onions, celery and whole shrimp.
5. Add the Old Bay and again lightly toss. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
6. Shrimp salad can be served with crackers or scoop chips.
Secret Ingredient – Experience. “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
– Albert Einstein