Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fish for Fridays: Smoky Spanish Shrimp

Although I am not Catholic, I do live in South Louisiana, where Catholicism is the predominant religion. Even though I may not share the religious background or views of my fellow Louisianians, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the tradition of Friday Fish. Here in South Louisiana, just about every cafeteria, restaurant or kitchen will be serving a fish or seafood option for the next several Fridays. As a result, I aim to bring you, my lovely readers, a weekly fish or seafood option to encourage your cooking this Spring! So, just in time for the first Friday of Lent, I bring you Smoky Spanish Shrimp, a decadent shrimp dish that will blow you away! The paprika is non-negotiable, as it adds the smoky flavor desired for the dish.

My first experience with Spanish food came last summer at a terrific tapas restaurant in Chicago's hip Lincoln Park neighborhood. The wonderful reviews, eclectic menu and outdoor dining option at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba attracted our attention during a summer trip to the Windy City. The chic atmosphere and authentic Spanish cuisine makes this Zagat-rated restaurant a must-go for anyone in the Chicago area.

Traditionally, tapas consists of several small plates to be shared among friends while enjoying pre-dinner drinks. Often times, tapas is served prior to a main dish like paella, a very traditional Spanish rice dish, which takes a considerable amount of time to make. If you have never had tapas before, I strongly urge you to rush right out to your nearest tapas restaurant or your local bookstore for a great tapas recipe book! In the meantime, enjoy these tasty recipes.

Smoky Spanish Shrimp
Serves 4-6
1 pound unpeeled shrimp
3-4 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 tbsp olive oil
1-1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt 
1/8 tsp cayenne
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Begin by peeling and deveining the shrimp, being careful to leave the tail intact. Pour the oil, garlic and seasonings over the shrimp into a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Heat an additional tbsp of olive oil in a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet has preheated, add the shrimp and garlic mixture. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. The shrimp are cooked when the edges curl and the meat is no longer translucent.

Just before removing from the heat source, add the lemon juice and parsley, stirring to incorporate. Serve in the skillet or serving dish along with sliced bread.

Serving suggestion: Try my variation of this Spanish Yellow Rice recipe from Epicurious along with sweet peas for a complete meal!

Spanish Yellow Rice
(Serves 2-4)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup white long-grain rice
2 cups water
1 pinch saffron threads

Begin by crushing the saffron threads and steeping in a tbsp warm water. This will help to create the desired color for the rice.

Next, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion, bell pepper and salt. Sweat the vegetables for about 3-5 minutes or until softened, stirring often. Add the garlic and stir constantly for about one minute. Add the saffron mixture and cilantro, stirring well to incorporate the saffron.

Add the rice and stir well. Allow the rice to brown for about 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the water, cover and bring to a low boil. Stir the mixture one last time, then reduce the heat, recover and simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff the rice when finished.

Serve with the shrimp and green peas dressed with a splash of lime juice and coriander!


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