What's that, you say? "Sr Gregor, last time you did a barbecue article, you had a cool video from some Youtubers with music and stuff. Where's our video? Hunh, hunh?" Very well, my little nomsters (see what I did there?), here you go. Enjoy, and while you're at it, give a browse through the rest of MyHarto's collection of always funny, seldom informative, and deep as a Chicago-style pizza "cooking" videos:
Alrighty then, again taking a tip from Chef John over at FoodWishes, I decided to try cooking shrimp in their shells. I've only cooked with truly raw shrimp a few times; typically I end up buying the precooked stuff, but for the most part, anything I cook them with results in them being a bit tougher than I'd like. Shrimp should, ideally, have moisture and a certain level of "crispness" to them when bitten into. The precooked stuff is fine for when I'm feeling lazy, but particularly in this case, you definitely want to go with raw, large-sized shrimp. (For those who might be confused - raw shrimp is usually blueish-gray. If it's pink, it's already cooked.) Shrimp are measured by how many it takes to make a pound, I went with "21/25"s, which is to say, it takes 21-25 of these shrimp to make a pound. I also bought them "ready to peel", which means that they've been deveined and could be peeled right then and there.
I started out making my side dishes - they're both cold and could stand to sit in their respective juices and oils while the shrimp cook, and the shrimp are best served near-piping hot from the pan. I went with a fruit salad of strawberries and mangoes in a honey syrup sauce, and some bruschetta. Cutting mango is, in my humble opinion, a pain in the tuchus. It doesn't have a clearly-defined pit, and when they properly ripened, they're a pain to cleanly separate from their skin. I go with a nearly-ripe mango, personally, but if you have better luck elsewise, more power to you. I cut into the fruit in quarters, without slicing through the pit, and then link my finger just under the skin. On a good day, like this one, I got it cleanly off. At that point, I just carve out chunks from the pulp. Strawberries.... um, remove the green bit and cut them? The honey syrup was about a quarter cup of honey, a pinch of nutmeg, and a couple tsps of vanilla, just enough to make it fragrant and flavorful.
Bruschettas you've seen me do elsewhere. No big changes are needed, although when I laid it all out, I kept the mozzarella separate, with some cracked pepper and olive oil drizzled on it, and the basil-mix in a bowl so people could make their own. One thing I did differently was getting rid of the seeds and "jelly" of the tomato - it made for a much less sloppy bruschetta topping.
Back to the main part of the meal, for my marinade, I went with a few dashes of salt and pepper, a couple tbsp of ketchup, a quarter-cup of brown sugar, some cumin, chipotle powder, a pinch of allspice, the juice from a medium-sized lemon, a couple tbsp of olive oil, and a pinch of onion powder. Toss your shrimp in the marinade, coating liberally, and let it sit for ten minutes or so. Get your pan nice and hot, season it, lower the temp to and lay your shrimp down side by side , with a bit of room to breath and dry out enough to crisp the shells a bit. We're also leaving the shrimps in their shells in order to somewhat insult them from the pan so they cook without drying out. You want to leave them on their side until they're cooked just past halfway, then flip them. (The flesh of shrimp will go from semi-translucent to a more solid white as it cooks.)
Once the meat has cooked through (all opaque), you're pretty much set to plate and serve. Some pointers I picked up through the video and practice:
- Don't let the shrimp sit in the marinade too long. The high acidic component will essentially cook the meat prematurely, lending itself to a more rubbery texture.
- Cooking with raw shrimp is vastly superior to precooked shrimp. If it's opaque, it's already cooked. All you're going to do by cooking pre-cooked shrimp is shrink and toughen the meat.
- Don't leave your pan on high for too long, or you'll burn the oil and your food, even if you drop the temp right before cooking.
In any case, it was fun, and a nice light summer meal. At the time, in fact, it was so hot outside, we cleaned out the dog's kiddie pool and set up our table in the pool itself so we could leave our feet in to cool off under the blistering sun. Clearly, cooking for amazing flavor doesn't lead to cultured living.