(Sept. 13, 2019) There is no question shrimp is the most popular seafood.
Steamed shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp scampi and shrimp salad are just a few of the delectable dishes that we love to feast on.
But how often do you see shrimp dip listed as an appetizer? It is a pity, because shrimp dip is delicious and many believe it can give crab dip a run for its money.
If you have never had the pleasure of eating this first course, you have no idea what you are missing. Following are some tips for scrumptious shrimp dip.
First and foremost, it is perfectly acceptable to use frozen shrimp. There are some types of seafood that do not freeze well but shrimp is not one of them. Also, frozen shrimp are much more affordable.
Details determine a great dish verses a good dish. When I partake of shrimp dip, I want to taste hunks of tender shrimp.
The dimension of the chop is the next consideration.
Shrimp are sold by size and sizes are packaged per pound. For example, 16/20 count means there are approximately 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. The fewer the shrimp per pound, the larger they are and the more expensive.
I prefer to purchase 51/60 count shrimp for several reasons. They are considered “small” and are even more affordable. Also, small shrimp can actually have a sweeter taste as opposed to the larger shrimp.
In addition, I like to leave the shrimp whole. Your guests will experience a more intense shrimp flavor and whole shrimp will add sophistication to the dip.
Sometimes small things can be a good thing, and in this case the small shrimp produces the perfect bite.
Overcooked seafood is the first sign of a novice chef. When you are sautéing the shrimp, you only want to heat them to the point where the opaqueness starts to turn color.
Remember, you will be cooking the dip in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.
One might ask why even bother to sauté the shrimp? Shrimp have a lot of natural juices and if you do not precook them and get rid of this excess liquid, the juices will thin out your velvety cheese sauce as it bakes in the oven and the texture becomes a soggy mess.
Once you have sautéed your shrimp, place them on a cooling rack to help facilitate the cooling process. After they have cooled, place the shrimp in paper towels and squeeze out any leftover liquid.
There is a lot of chopping in this recipe. A few pulses of a food processor saves a lot of time, but make sure you only pulse it, otherwise you will end up with pureed vegetables.
The consistency of the vegetables is critical and adds contrast to the velvety cheese sauce.
Finally, the addition of Old Bay captures the essence of the Eastern Shore and gives the dip a unique twist. If you reside in Ocean City, Old Bay is a must in your repertoire of spices.
Before you know it, the holidays will be here. Dips are a great way to add to the festivities and enhance one’s menu. Trust me, whole shrimp nestled in a mound of spicy, cheesy goodness will always be a hit. Enjoy!
Spicy Shrimp Dip Eastern Shore Style
1 ½ pounds 51/60 frozen shrimp, tails and shells removed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup combined finely chopped red, orange and yellow peppers
2 poblano peppers, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 large scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, including the leaves, finely chopped
1 (12-ounce) container whipped cream cheese
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup mozzarella
1 cup shredded Mexican style four cheese blend
kosher salt to taste
fresh cilantro as a garnish
non-flavored cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large nonstick pan, sauté shrimp in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat just until the opaque color starts to turn white.
Remove immediately and place on a cooling rack underlined with a sheet pan. Place shrimp in paper towels and squeeze out the excess liquid.
If you are using 51/60 shrimp, leave them whole for a wow factor.
3. Reduce heat to medium low, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and sauté peppers, garlic, scallions, and celery for 3 to 4 minutes.
Place vegetables sieve over top of a bowl and allow excess liquid to drain.
4. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer, blend cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
5. Add shrimp, vegetables, 2 teaspoons Old Bay, crushed pepper flakes and cheeses to large bowl. (Reserve ½ cup of the Mexican blend to sprinkle on top of the finished dip).
Using a large spoon, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Season with salt according to personal taste.
6. Transfer dip to prepared baking dish. Add remaining ½ cup of Mexican blend cheese to the top of the dip.
Sprinkle remaining teaspoon of Old Bay on top of added cheese. 7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the dip is bubbly. Place under the broiler to obtain an extra brown, crispy finish.
8. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately with crackers, tortilla chips, or toasted baguettes.
* Freeze the shrimp shells for future seafood stock.
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