Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shrimp Heaven

Cold turns my thoughts to comfort food, and shrimp is a favorite.

Denny and I enjoyed a dish called Armadillo Hunters' Shrimp, adapted from The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook.  I'm not sure about the connection between armadillo hunters and shrimp (aren't armadillo hunters otherwise known as road-kill removers?) but dinner was so good there were no leftovers. 

And it was comforting to eat (mildly) spicy, succulent shrimp in front of the fire during our recent cold snap.  As a bonus, the dish is quick and healthy.

1 tsp fennel seeds*
1 tsp coriander seeds*
*The fennel and coriander give this dish an intriguing twist that deepens the tomato and sweetens the shrimp.
2 tblsp vegetable oil
4 green onions,  coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (if you're not fond of heat, try a poblano pepper instead)
3/4 pound grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp coarse-ground pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
~2 tblsp dry sherry (or more your if mixture seems dry)**see note
1 lb. medium peeled shrimp

**Note:  If you don't have sherry, use white wine. A rich Chardonnay would be good.  For sherry, use any sherry good enough to drink.  I usually pour myself a little thimble to sip as I cook, under the guise of quality-control.  Currently I'm cooking with Osborne Amontillado, a Spanish medium sherry aged four years in oak barrels.  It adds a smidgen of smoky undertone. 

Heat a big nonstick skillet, throw in the fennel seeds and coriander seeds.  Toast over medium heat until fragrant.  Remove and grind coarsely (or pulverize with a mortar and pestle).  Set aside.

Add oil to skillet and heat until very hot, almost smoking.  Add green onions and jalapeno, cook a couple of minutes until softened.  Add garlic.  Stir to mix.

Add tomatoes, oregano, pepper, sherry, fennel and coriander, and salt.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir and cook another few minutes.  When tomatoes begin to wrinkle and split, add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp turn pink, 2-4 minutes.

Serve over yellow rice.  I stir Spanish smoked paprika and turmeric into basmati rice before adding the water.  The paprika adds toast and the turmeric earthiness.

Makes 2-4 servings depending on hunger and politeness.

Add a salad with a fresh lemon vinaigrette, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or light Pinot Noir, and you'll enjoy a feast fit for a new decade.

Words and photos by Kathleen Scott, Hill Country Mysteries.

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