Shrimp are a wonderful seafood to serve as a main course or an appetizer. You can buy them fresh or frozen, raw (often called green) or cooked. Buying them raw is usually less expensive but they are really easy to cook. The trick is to cook them JUST until they begin to turn pink. The longer they cook, the tougher they become and the less juicy and flavorful they are. Just drop them in boiling, salted water with a few lemon slices and remove them just when they are pink. If you are going to use them right away, proceed. If not, drop them in ice water to stop them from continuing to cook and chill them. Dry with paper towel and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
When you buy shrimp, look at the numbers on the package or the label. You will see something like 25-40 or 30-45 or 60-90 or something like that. The lower the number spread, the larger the shrimp because these numbers estimate the number of units per pound. The Jumbo (an oxymoron!) or Tiger shrimp may be as little as 10-15. The tiny bay shrimp used in salads may be as high as 90-120.
If already cooked, check to be sure the black vein along the curve has been removed. If it hasn’t, using the tip of a paring knife, carefully lift it at one end and it will likely come up all the way. Discard and rinse the shrimp. If it doesn’t come up in one piece, you can lightly scrape it away.
If buying fresh shrimp, you might want to take the shells off (leaving the tail shell on or not, your choice and depending on how you plan to use them). Save the shells by bagging them and freezing them. When you plan to make a fish stock, the saved shells will add a nice flavor. Or, use some of the water in which you poached them in the recipe (if it calls for water to be added)!
Shrimp adapt to many flavors. I think you’ll enjoy them with this spicy peanut sauce. And, you can make everything in advance and bring it out when you are ready to serve it!
Shrimp with Spicy Peanut Sauce
• 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, cooked and chilled
• 2 tablespoons basil, minced
• 2 tablespoons 100% peanut butter
• 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
• 1 ½ teaspoons chili garlic sauce
• ¼ cup water, more if consistency is too thick
Either buy shrimp precooked, or peel, cook, devein, and chill shrimp.
Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add more water until you have your desired consistency.
Serve peanut sauce with chilled shrimp.