Welcome to The Fresh 20 Recipe Diary!
This week’s recipe: CITRUS SHRIMP
ORIGINS: Citrus and seafood have long been favored companions. The fresh sharpness of lemons and limes is the perfect counterpoint to the dense richness of seafood such as shrimp, lobster and crab. The popular coastal dish of ceviche even uses citrus juice to ‘cook’ raw seafood instead of using heat – which is why we don’t use the lime juice as a marinade! Just a drizzle at the end to insure a bright, lingering flavor.
KEY INGREDIENTS: This is definitely a dish where less is more – just three key flavors.
- Shrimp – Buying seafood can be intimidating, but it couldn’t be easier when you know these four things:
Variety: There are hundreds of shrimp varieties and the selection at your local market will vary by region and season. They come from both cold and warm water, and are generally pink, white or brown. If you don’t have a seafood market, just ask for recommendations at the fish counter in your local grocery store – they will be able to steer you to the best choice for you. As long as the shrimp is from a quality source and has been handled properly, any variety is fine. For convenience sake, it’s easiest on the cook to choose headless, peeled and deveined shrimp.
Size: Shrimp are categorized by ambiguous names ranging from ‘extra small’ to ‘extra colossal’ based on how many it takes to make one pound. Extra Colossal shrimp are so big it takes less than 5 to make a pound, while it takes up to 70 for extra small. Avoid the extremes and choose shrimp in the midrange (30-45 per pound, or medium to large).
Fresh vs. Frozen: Unless you live on the coast (lucky you!), your shrimp, even that at the fish counter, was probably shipped frozen and thawed at the store. This isn’t a bad thing! Just check with your grocer for clarification. If you are purchasing shrimp ahead of time, it’s fine to choose frozen shrimp.
Storing – Only choose fresh (thawed) shrimp if you plan to cook it in 24 hours or so. To defrost frozen shrimp, simply move it to the refrigerator the day before or place it in a colander and run it under cool water until thawed.
Note: For questions on sustainability and fishing practices, check www.seafoodwatch.org.
- Citrus – This week is lime, although lemon is also a great choice. Choose bright heavy fruit with no brown or soft spots. This dish could also be made with tangerines, oranges or even grapefruit!
- Cilantro – You either love it or hate it. There are definitely two camps when it comes to cilantro, the “Why does it taste like soap?” camp and the “I can’t live without it” camp. Whether you are the former or the latter, it is a vital part of the dish, but in a pinch, it can be replaced with fresh parsley (but we wouldn’t recommend it!).
RECIPE NOTES: This is an easy one! No complicated techniques or preparation. Do be sure to watch the shrimp as it cooks – overcooked shrimp is BAD. The dish will literally be done in minutes when the shrimp hits the pan. Turn the shrimp once after two minutes and then watch carefully. When it starts to become light pink and opaque, it is done. Remove it from the heat, top with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of cilantro and serve!