This big-flavored dish with unexpected ingredients combines sweet, savory, tart and just a hint of spicy elements and is also gorgeous to look at. Although the delicious wild shrimp from the gulf that Pietro sells at the Palo Alto and Menlo Park farmers markets was the inspiration for this simple but elegant dish, it could also be made with shrimp/prawns from a good market – or seared scallops or just about any flavorful, white seafood. The shrimp cooking technique is based on something I learned eons ago in a Chinese cooking class that’s a super-easy version of the French en papillote method.
Serves 2-4, depending on the eaters
~ 1 lb. of wild shrimp or large shrimp/prawns (jumbo sizes can also be used)
2 leeks, white and pale green part only
2-3 diced shallots
4 T unsalted butter (use more for added richness)
½ cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, diced (more can be used, if desired)
2 T peeled fresh ginger, diced (more can be used if desired)
2 containers (~ 15 oz. each) of fresh carrot juice
(optional) 1-2 (or more) peeled sweet fresh carrots, cut up (this intensifies the carrot taste)
½ bunch (or more) of fresh mint, stems removed and cut into little strips
1-2 lemons (grate the peel of one and reserve before squeezing)
olive oil (~2 T)
1 teas (or more or less) curry powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup cooked jasmine rice or whatever rice you prefer
1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and cook the shallots and leeks on medium heat until soft.When the shallots/leeks are halfway cooked, add half the diced ginger. If adding carrots, put them in at the same time. Cook for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the wine and cook off all the liquid in the pan on medium-low heat, letting the vegetables carmelize a bit. Around 10 minutes or until nicely browned.
3. Add the carrot juice and cook on medium-low heat until the liquids reduce by about 20%.
Cooking the shrimp (can be started before making the above):
1. Be sure to save any liquid released during defrosting. (Pietro’s shrimp come frozen, but are still delicious.) Peel the shrimp. (Be sure to save the shells in the freezer for making divine stock another time.) If desired, devein the shrimp as well.
2. In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with the lemon zest, garlic and the remainder of the ginger.Add olive oil and about 2T of lemon juice (I use more, but I like lemon).
3. Put the shrimp mixture into a sheet of foil and fold so everything is encased. If the packets seem too big, make two.
4. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes on 375, or cook on a burner, or on a grill.
1. Add any defrosted juices to the carrot mixture along with all the liquids and chopped garlic/ginger that surround the cooked shrimp. Add the curry powder (you can use more).
2. With an immersion blender or blender, process the carrot mixture (you need to let it cool a little beforehand) until smooth. A food processor doesn’t do the right job on this, producing the wrong texture.But if that’s all you have, make sure not to put too much into the bowl because the liquids can overflow. Return to the pan and add lemon juice, half the mint, salt and pepper to taste. I think that adding a lot of lemon makes this taste the best, but follow your own preferences.
3. Add the shrimp to the pan and heat everything until the mint is wilted (but not brown) and the curry is heated. If you got overeager and reduced it too much so there’s not enough liquid, your options are to add more carrot juice or shellfish stock (best approach) or water (still acceptable) until there’s an adequate amount of liquid (it will be served with rice).
4. (Optimally) in shallow bowls,put a scoop of rice on one side and several shrimp, them pour the carrot sauce into the bottom of the bowl, not covering the top of the rice.Decorate with the remaining julienned mint.
This dish is really good with an aromatic white wine like reisling, gewurtztraminer, a rich sauvignon blanc, etc. I personally serve it with ‘Zind’ from Alsace’s remarkable Zind-Humbrecht, although a Zind-Humbrecht pinot gris or reisling would do nicely as well.Vin Vino Wine in Palo Alto usually carries some.