Friday, August 11, 2006

Succulent Shrimp

Sweet. Juicy. Succulent.

How else to describe the beauty that is the shrimp?

Tonight I made what was supposed to be last night's dinner - Ginger, Scallion and Garlic Shrimp from Rachael Ray's new magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. I made this dish a few weeks ago and fell in love with its simplicity and its taste. As you can see from the recipe below, the dish calls for a huge chunk of ginger and 6 (count 'em, 6) cloves of garlic. With ingredients like that, you're bound to get great flavor. When you add in the onion-y goodness of scallions and the kick of the red pepper flakes you've got a real winner.

I served the shrimp over plain white rice that I cooked according to the package directions, only I use 1/4 cup less water then they call for. My bag of rice says to use 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice, so I use 1 3/4 cups of water, which makes the rice a bit more fluffy.

Now you might be thinking, "Shrimp is too expensive for weeknight cooking. I only cook shrimp for special occasions." Well let me share a little secret with you - you don't have to buy fresh shrimp at the seafood counter anymore. Frozen shrimp are just as good. And cheaper, in most cases. In fact, those "fresh" shrimp that you've been buying at the supermarket were probably frozen at one point (unless you're lucky enough to live near a fresh fish market and can get shrimp that were caught that day). There is no way they can transport unfrozen shrimp to your supermarket. They would go bad before they even got into the case. If you read the price placards closely, most say the shrimp was "previously frozen." If it doesn't say that, chances are you'll have to pay top dollar for them to rush the shrimp to the market.

I used to be like you, only buying shrimp for an anniversary dinner or when we were having really special company. Then one day SP and I were perusing the frozen foods section of our local wholesale club and we spotted 2-pound bags of raw, peeled and deveined frozen shrimp. And not the tiny ones either, the 16-20 count. It was like a beacon of light from above.

We bought a bag and I used them to make shrimp scampi. Let me tell you, I couldn't taste a difference between them and the ones I'd been buying for years at the fish counter. In fact, the bags of frozen shrimp are a lot easier to deal with because you can portion out as much as you want, defrost them in the fridge overnight (or, if you decide to make shrimp at the last minute, you can just run them under cold water to defrost them) and then cook them like you would fresh shrimp. As long as you buy the raw shrimp, you won't run the risk of overcooking them as you would with the already cooked frozen shrimp.

So break out your everyday dishes and enjoy shrimp on a weeknight. Happy cooking!

Ginger, Scallion and Garlic Shrimp
4 servings

1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
One 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 scallions, halved lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces, dark green parts set aside
Steamed rice

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white with the cornstarch, sugar, salt and pepper until a paste forms. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set the shrimp aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes; set aside.

3. Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat for 3 minutes. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the shrimp and the white and light green scallion pieces and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, until the shrimp are almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic mixture and the dark green scallion pieces and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute more.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the shrimp to a large platter and serve with steamed rice.
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