Saturday, May 2, 2009

143. Cilantro Lime Shrimp (p. 46)

OK, I think I need a little lesson in shrimp anatomy, or at least in shrimp preparation. In order to make this recipe,* I bought a pound of frozen "deveined" shrimp. I thawed them in a bowl of ice water, and then I started to peel them. That's when I noticed the dark vein running down the inner curve of each shrimp. But wait, I though I had paid a couple of bucks extra to get "deveined" shrimp. What's the deal? Turns out that shrimp have two veins. One website I found called the vein on the outer curve the "sand vein" and the vein on the inner curve the "blood vein." Another website said that many people only take out the vein on the outer curve.

My shrimp had a slice down the outer curve of each shrimp, and the outer vein had been removed. The inner vein was still intact. I decided to take that one out, too. To I took a sharp, pointy paring knife and did some shrimp surgery. I made a thin slice down the inner curve of each shrimp and pretty easily removed the inner vein. But my question is, did I have to? I'd appreciate your thoughts about deveining.

With my shrimp fully deveined, I made some marinade. I mashed some garlic and salt together with my chef's knife to make a paste, and whisked that together with some fresh lime juice, orange marmalade, finely chopped fresh cilantro, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. (The Book also calls for a little bit of soy sauce, but I left it out due to our current soy/wheat/dairy ban.) I reserved some of the marinade for a dipping sauce. I tossed the rest of the marinade into a zip-top bag with the shrimp. I let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for a little while.

Next, I drained the shrimp and patted it dry with a paper towel. I heated some oil in a skillet and sauteed half of the shrimp for a few minutes until they started to brown. I transferred them to a plate and cooked the rest of the shrimp.

This was a delicious way to eat shrimp. The citrus and cilantro flavors are bright and clean. The marmalade gives the shrimp a touch of sweetness and the red pepper flakes give just a hint of heat. We thought that they were just a bit greasy. Maybe the amount of oil in the recipe could be reduced?

This recipe is in The Book's hors d'oeuvres chapter. I could see these shrimp being served as a passed hors d'oeuvre at a cocktail party, but only if there were plenty of napkins. This is definitely a "finger lickin' good" shrimp. I think that a better use for this dish might be as part of a meal of "small plates" (i'm thinking non-Spanish tapas). It would also be great for dinner, served over rice, drizzled with the reserved marinade and accompanied by some crisp steamed vegetables, like snow peas. However you serve it, and you should, you'll enjoy this one.

Date Cooked: April 19, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

*On, this recipe is called "Coriander Lime Shrimp." Same thing.


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

I read somewhere that in a blind taste test people couldn't tell if their shrimp had been deveined or not and that it was primarily aesthetics. So I devein the outer one if the shrimp are jumbo, but otherwise I leave it alone.

The Mediocre Cook said...

I agree with Melissa, The inner vein isn't worth removing and the outer vein really only needs to be removed in jumbo shrimp. Truth is when a shrimp is deveined they are really removing the intestinal tract which in larger shrimp can contain grit hence the term 'sand' vein.

I used to remove the inner vein but I don't bother with either unless the shrimp I am using are extra large/jumbo.

Anyway the dish looks fabulous and shrimp are one of the few seafoods my 5 year old loves.