Monday, June 2, 2008

Olive Oil-Poached Shrimp

I cannot tell you how excited I am to share this lovely dish with you as my 200th post! Yay 200th post! I don't always have the best follow-through with things, so it pleases me to not only have been blogging for over a year, but to have actually learned from and shared so much with you - fantastic!

And fantastic is the perfect way to describe these olive oil-poached shrimp. This was a new technique for me, and I'm not entirely sure I would have attempted it, but my fabulous husband (and sous-chef) requested it. I am so glad I did, because Dave and I had an awesome time pulling it together. He peeled and deveined the shrimp, infused the oil, took lots of pictures and did a ton of dishes - and kept me laughing the whole time. Collective cartoon bird-sigh, Everyone - "Awwwww!" Sappy, but true. This was a blast to make.

This recipe has a lot of steps, but don't be discouraged - nothing is tricky. It wasn't even especially time consuming, if you want to get right down to it. The oil infused while I prepared the lime syrup and roasted the poblano. The poblano steamed while I prepared the veg. The tomatoes marinated while we tidied up. Everything was ready to go by the time our friends Jeremy and Liane came over, so we were able to have quality friend time with no worries about our starter!

I did have reservations about the poaching. Would it work? Would the shrimp be oily? Would we like it? In short, it did, they weren't, and OMG, they were delicious!! Next time we make this (because we will be making this again), we'll do way more than 8 shrimp - two per person just wasn't enough! The shrimp were tender and flavored delicately with coriander and red pepper flake - and not the least bit oily!

As much as we loved the shrimp, they weren't the only stars of the show! Neither Dave nor Jeremy particularly care for tomatoes, but the marinade brightened them up to the point they didn't even taste like tomatoes - but in a good way. The cucumber salad was sweet and crunchy, crisp and smoky. The cucumber, lime zest and roasted poblano melded together in a most beautiful way. The brightness in both the tomatoes and cucumber salad was balanced deftly by the sliced avocado and mellow lime syrup. I couldn't possibly give you enough positive adjectives to explain how terrific every part of this plate was singularly, much less blended together. I can just say that it was a symphony of flavors, and each flavor came together beautifully as a whole.

Elegant and delicious, this appetizer was. A blast to create and a joy to share. Thank you for sticking with me for 200 posts. I hope I have 200 more, just as tasty as this one.

Olive Oil-Poached Shrimp
c/o Top Chef: The Cookbook
winning recipe by Lia, Season 3, Episode 4

2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
One 750-ml bottle olive oil
1 lime
½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 English cucumber
1 large poblano chile
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Juice of ½ navel orange
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 vine-ripened tomato
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Hass avocados

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, toast the coriander seeds and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the oil. Heat until just hot to the touch, then remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and transfer to a medium saucepan.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of the lime, then trim off any white pith. (Reserve the lime.) Cut the zest into very fine dice, put it in a small saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then immediately drain in a sieve. Return the zest to the pan, cover with cold water again, bring to a boil, then drain. In the saucepan, combine the sugar and ½ cup water. Add the zest and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool.

Pour the syrup through a sieve set over a clean saucepan; set the candied zest aside in a small bowl. Combine the cornstarch and 1 ½ teaspoons water. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the syrup and add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Cut the cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds. Cut the cucumber, peel included, into very fine dice and put in the bowl with the candied zest.

Roast the chile directly over a gas flame, turning with tongs until add sides are lightly charred. Place the chile in a heat-proof bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the blackened skin, seeds, and stems. Cut the bright green parts into very fine dice, to make 2 tablespoons. Add to the cucumber mixture, along with the juice of half the reserved lime (reserve the remaining lime for another use), ½ teaspoon of the infused oil, the cilantro, and salt to taste. Set the salad aside.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, orange juice, vinegar, and salt to taste. Slice the tomato into 8 thin wedges and add to the marinade. Set aside.

Warm the remaining infused oil over low heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and add them to the oil – it should not be hot enough to sputter. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until firm. Transfer the shrimp to paper towels to drain.

Peel and thinly slice the avocados. Lightly brush some of the lime syrup onto each of 8 serving plates. Place a shrimp on one side of the brushstroke. Place avocado slices next to the shrimp. Put 1 wedge of marinated tomato between the shrimp and avocado. Using a slotted spoon to drain the excess liquid from the cucumber salad, place a small line of the salad next to the avocado. Serve immediately.


Deborah said...

I was totally going to say that this sounded like a Top Chef recipe, and then I saw that it is!! It sounds delcious to me, and looks so elegant!

Congrats on 200 posts!!

Bellini Valli said...

This sounds like an incredible combination that just works:D

Peter M said...

I'm diggin' the poaching in oil technique and I envy you cooking together with's the best (sometimes the food gets cold)! lol