Hello, native shrimp. We've met before. Oh, you don't remember? Think back to a few summers ago to the Seafood Smackdown...
Where the mystery seafood, unveiled at the last moment, was Native Shrimp. Five pounds of it, beautifully cleaned, with which we made fancy little lettuce-wrapped shrimp bundles:
That were oh so tasty and delicious but lost by one point to the cream sauce-laden fried spaghetti bowls next door. Ah well, should we really be surprised?
You may not know that the North Atlantic has shrimp. I actually got into a big argument with my first husband once when I said that I had seen a little shrimp frolicking in the tidal waters and sea grass behind our cabin on North Haven. No shrimp around here, he said. Oh yes there are, said I.
This is what they look like, uncooked:
That's right, in their natural state, they're pink. Unlike the shrimp we buy from the supermarket, which look like this:
...and then turn pink. If you would like to read a boring paper about different types of shrimp and where they live, what they eat, where they spawn, and how they're affected by temperature, go here.
So if I didn't get these fancy shrimp in the supermarket, where did I get them? Regular readers know that I participate in a CSF, or Community Supported Fishery, where I pick up 4-6 lbs of whole fish once a week (well, every other week since I'm splitting it with my friend Elizabeth) and the winter share includes shrimp. Yay for winter!
Except, boo for winter because 4-6 pounds of shrimp turns out to be really time consuming to behead and beshell! So I'm finally getting back around to one of the points of mentioning the Seafood Smackdown up there, which is that you'll notice that I said we were given 5 lbs of beautifully cleaned shrimp, and NOW I KNOW how tedious that process is. Thank you, anonymous shrimp-cleaner, whoever you are!
So finally we come to the meal of the day here, which is Shrimp in Coconut Milk.
Mmm. You might be thinking coconut milk = southeast Asian, but you'd be wrong--this was inspired (say the headnotes) by a trip to Brazil, (where some cook there was probably inspired by a trip to southeast Asia.) How do you make it? Like so:
Make a shrimp stock by boiling your shrimp shells in water, and while you're doing that, mix up the shrimp with some lime juice and salt and throw it in the fridge. Then saute garlic, bell peppers and onions in a pan, add a little flour for thickening, then a big can of diced tomatoes, a can of coconut milk and 2 cups of shrimp stock. Let it cook until the veggies are tender, then toss in the shrimp. Sprinkle with cilantro and scallions, serve over rice, and you've got dinner!
How was it? I screwed up the rice. I combined two types of long-grain white rice and somehow half the rice was over cooked and the other half was undercooked and all I could think of was This Would Totally Get Me Kicked Off Top Chef. Fellow chefs, former chefs, would-be chefs, don't tell me you don't think exactly the same way, imagining Tom Colicchio shaking his head in sorrow and disbelief that you could have screwed up something so basic, which we all do from time to time. Piss off, Tom Colicchio, and get out of my head--I lost all respect for you when you started shilling for Diet Coke. And I'll cook the rice better next time.