Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poached Shrimp Louisiana Style

Shrimp poached in olive oil is one of my favorite things. A bunch of my guy friends are in New Orleans this weekend, and rather than mope about not being with them, I decided to get a little taste of the south at home here in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! It looks like there's a lot to this recipe, but I did the whole thing in 30 minutes...everything cooks quickly.

Poached Shrimp Louisiana Style
(Serves 2)
10 medium-large shrimp
1 ripe roma tomato
1 jalepeno
3 small or 2 medium tomatillos
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1T sherry vinegar
Fresh thyme, leaves from about 4 sprigs
Sugar (to taste, about 1 tsp)
12-15 fresh okra
1/4 c. corn meal
1/2 tsp chili powder (make your own - look for the technique elsewhere in my blog)
1/4 tsp onion powder
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
Olive oil for poaching and sauteing - a cup or a bit more

Prep the sauce: fire up the grill, lightly oil the jalapeno and tomato, and char both. Make sure the chili pepper is black all over. Place both in a bowl and lightly cover. In the mean time, husk and rinse the tomatillos, place in boiling, salted water, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until they are just starting to fall apart. Gently remove with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl with the tomato and jalapeno. When the pepper has cooled enough to touch, remove the skin, cut off the stem, cut in half and remove and discard the seeds. Mince the flesh and return to the bowl. Remove the tomato skin and discard. By hand, break up the tomatillos and the tomato into small pieces.

Place the shallot and garlic in a small saute or sauce pan with a little olive oil and cook over medium low until just starting to brown. Add the tomato-tomatillo-jalapeno mixture and a little salt, plus some sugar and the vinegar. Add the thyme leaves. Cook until the sauce is starting to thicken, stirring occasionally. Taste for balance of flavors. Think about the balance of acid, sweet and salt in ketchup - you want that character, only less salt and sugar - the tomatillo and tomato flavors should still come through. At this point, also add cayenne pepper to taste. Make it as hot or mild as you like. Start with a little if you're not sure!

Meanwhile, poach the shrimps. Heat enough olive oil to cover the shrimps in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it's hot, add the shrimps and reduce the heat to medium-low. You are not frying the shrimp, you're poaching...keep the oil temp low enough to prevent bubbling/frying. They will cook slowly and gently - should take about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep and cook the Okra. Combine the corn meal, chili powder, onion powder, and some salt (about 1/3 tsp) and pepper (generous fresh grind) in a medium bowl. Stir together. Cut the stems off of the okra, then cut into 1/4" pieces. The slimy insides will bind with the corn meal, so toss them in as you're cutting. Stir to coat; let rest for a minute; stir to coat again; repeat a few times.

Heat about 3T of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the okra from the bowl and add to the pan, increasing the heat to medium-high. Fry, turning frequently, until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a warm bowl with the slotted spoon. Time this so you can plate shortly after.

To serve: place half the sauce on each of two warm plates and spread it out. Place the shrimp on top (don't drain the shrimps - remove them from the oil with tongs without shaking off excess want that flavor!), then sprinkle on the okra. Serve immediately.

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