By Barbara Beltrami
Of all the crustaceans and mollusks that go under the heading of seafood or shellfish, it seems that shrimp is the most popular. Shrimp cocktail, an American first-course staple served in a stemmed dish with a tangy sauce, has been around for as long as I can remember. Now it’s more popular as a trayed hors d’oeuvre.But there are myriad other preparations for this most versatile crustacean.
Years ago, when I was a young cook and wanted to impress my dinner guests, I used to make Shrimp Newburg. Swimming in its creamy sherry sauce in a large (probably fake) scallop shell or ramekin, it was a really impressive starter or entrée. Italian cooks smother shrimp with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and a generous sprinkling of hot pepper to create fiery Shrimp Fra Diavolo. And for a quick, simple no-nonsense palate pleaser, grilled breaded shrimp served with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice becomes a real go-to dish for an hors d’oeuvre, appetizer or main dish.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
YIELD: 2 to 4 servings
INGREDIENTS: One pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
One cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt, dried red pepper flakes and oil. Transfer shrimp, oil and seasonings to a medium skillet; cook until pink, turn and cook one more minute. Remove with slotted spoon or fork and set aside to keep warm. To the same skillet, and remaining oil, add onion, tomatoes, wine, garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is evaporated and sauce has thickened. Return shrimp to skillet, mix with sauce and cook over medium-low heat, just until heated through. Serve over a bed of linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine.
YIELD: 4 servings
One pound small shrimp, cleaned and deveined
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup sherry wine
DIRECTIONS: In a medium skillet, sauté shrimp in two tablespoons of the butter; set aside to keep warm. In the same skillet melt remaining butter and combine with the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in the half-and-half; continue stirring until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened; add sherry and stir 30 seconds more. Add shrimp, stirring frequently, until they are heated through. Do not overcook. Serve with rice or angel hair pasta.
Grilled Breaded Shrimp
YIELD: 4 servings of two skewers or 8 servings of one skewer.
8 twelve-inch wooden skewers, soaked in hot water for one hour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
One clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
40 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Lemon or lime wedges
DIRECTIONS: Preheat broiler or grill. Combine oil, bread crumbs parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss shrimp with mixture to coat. Place on soaked skewers, five shrimp to a skewer, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Grill 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown, rotating skewers after one or two minutes. Serve with lemon or lime wedges, salad and crispy potatoes.