Monday, April 2, 2012

Recipe: Fast Black Pepper Shrimp

The disparity between a restaurant's price and food quality rises in direct proportion to the size of the pepper mill. – Bryan Miller 

Just cooked through and dressed with pepper, honey, vermouth and butter. Mmmmmm.....
Pepper, my homemade vermouth,
a little honey and butter.
Here’s another quick shrimp recipe if you’re having a craving for something other than potato chips or chocolate. This would also be a good appetizer if you served on a crisp green salad with a honey vinaigrette.

Shrimp usually aren’t an inexpensive option, costing around $10-$12 per pound at the local grocery stores. But they do go on sale for $6.99 every so often. Keep an eye out and stock up. For this cook-from-frozen recipe it’s best to purchase pre-peeled shrimp. It just makes things so much easier when served.

Here’s a pet peeve. One of our grocery stores sells frozen shrimp by the pound (454 g). Another doesn’t seem to understand that concept. Their packages are 340 g. Most recipes call for a minimum of 1 lb. What are they trying to do? Make you buy more than you need? I would hazard a guess that is the right answer.

Regardless of my packaging "issues", it’s a good thing to know that you can cook shrimp from frozen. It certainly speeds things up. You just have to know what to expect. There’s going to be more liquid in your pan than if they’re thawed. Use it to your advantage.

As the shrimp thaw out while being sautéed a lot of liquid
will come out. Remove the shrimp once thawed, but
still undercooked.
Although it’s easy for you to thaw frozen shrimp before use I find that much of the natural juices tend to come out when you do so. Ideally you should try to retain that flavour. For many recipes it's advantageous to thaw them. For this one it's best to not.

Since they're not, this recipe captures all that “flash-frozen” goodness and uses the shrimp’s own juices to enhance the sauce.

When cooking shrimp from frozen expect a lot of water to come out. Don’t worry. All you have to do is make sure you don’t overcook your shrimp. That means taking them out before they’re done, reducing the liquid to a glaze, and then reintroducing the shrimp to finish cooking.

In actually think that this adds more flavour. The black pepper offset the honey, and the vermouth gives just enough herbal notes. These are far more peppery than they are sweet. The honey does little more than help create a glaze to carry the pepper.

Although I admit this was a late night snack (I made 1/2 lb), there’s no reason that you couldn’t use these shrimp as a fantastic basis for a first course.

Finish with large grained sea salt for a tasty, beautiful presentation.

Reduce the liquid in the pan to a glaze.
Black Pepper Shrimp
Prep: 2 min  |  Cook 5 min  |  Serves 4
1 lb peeled, raw frozen shrimp (do not thaw)
2 tsp honey
2 tsp butter
1-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp vermouth (no.5)*
finishing (large crystal) sea salt to taste

Place honey and butter in a frying pan and heat until melted together. Add the black pepper and stir.

Add the shrimp – still frozen – to the sizzling butter mixture. Toss and cook until the liquid starts to come out of the shrimp. Then add the vermouth and let cook for 1 minute.

Remove the shrimp before they are fully cooked, but are thawed.

Reduce the sauce in the pan to a glaze. Then add the shrimp back into the pan and allow to just cook through.

Serve sprinkled with large grain salt, like Celtic sea salt.

Reintroduce the shrimp once the sauce has reduced and allow to finish cooking.

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