Shrimp; sure their name might denote that they are small in size, but they are big in versatility. As Bubba so notably recited, "Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That, that’s about it.” Well, that's where I disagree with Bubba. There are a thousand ways to prepare a shrimp. Which makes them a perfect non meat dish to serve for a dinner party or crowd. Plus most people love shrimp. (Minus those poor souls with that horrible allergic reaction in the form of swelling, non breathing and other awful symptoms. So sorry for that group.)
Shrimp, in any form, on a big platter equals party pleaser. I have found this out the hard way. Early on in our entertaining days, since I'm a pescatarian, we would make shrimp for me when meat was the main course. But soon found out that everyone else loved them so much that they would eat up the small amount we made. We realized that we often didn't make enough for everyone to partake. Rookie move...that we remedied that quite quickly. Now, if shrimp is on the menu, it's in quantities that can feed the entire crowd, not just selfish me.
If we get larger size shrimp (does that mean they aren't really shrimp?) then we often leave the shells on. It exudes a ton of flavor. Marinate and cook them fully cloaked so that all that flavor from the shell cooks into the shrimp meat. Then suck on the shell before peeling it off. Don't groan and tell me that's gross. It's delicious. For this recipe you can peel the shell first or leave it on. Your choice. Either way this dish is about the play off the heat of the spicy shrimp cooled by the creaminess of the avocado and fresh cool tomato that makes it so satisfying. I like this dish for a summer outdoor party or a late Saturday afternoon lunch.
1.5 lb. large shrimp
2 avocados, cut into chunks
scrapings of avocado from the skin
2-3 medium (heirloom) tomatoes, thick slices
3-4 large garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 T jalapeño pepper, finely minced*
1/2 - 1 T Chili oil, or 1-2 t crushed red pepper flakes*
1.5 -2 T ginger, grated*
1.5 T cilantro, chopped
1/2 c red onion, sliced
1 t salt
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c white wine to deglaze pan
2 c basmati rice
1/4 c scallions, sliced
1/3 c cilantro
1 lemon, quartered
* These ingredients bring the heat. Adjust the amount according to how hot you like your food.
avocado scrapings from the inside of the shell
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 c Olive oil
Whisk together all above ingredients
1 T cilantro, minced for garnish
1 T scallions, sliced for garnish
In a bowl, combine garlic, jalapeño, chili oil, cilantro, ginger, scallions, red onion, salt and oil. Mix together with shrimp ensuring all are coated. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to marinate.
While the shrimp are marinating, cook the rice. I use 1.5 times water to rice ratio, bringing the water to a boil then adding rice. I add a touch of salt to the water, cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Let it cook around 15-18 minutes until light and fluffy.
Cut the tomatoes and avocado and assemble your plates so that you only have to add the shrimp and serve. Make the dressing by scraping out the odds and ends from the avocado shell. Add them to all the dressing ingredients an whisk together, and set aside.
You can create a family style platter. Or you can individually plate them using the avocado shells to hold the rice.
Then sauté the shrimp in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. You want to get a nice sear on both sides. Shrimp do not take but 2-3 minutes to cook. Keep in mind that they will continue to cook once removed from the heat.
While the shrimp are cooking, toss the scallions and cilantro into the rice. You can plate it by using the avocado shells, or simply plate alongside the tomato and avocado. Be creative, and make a pretty plate.
After all the shrimp are cooked, sauté the marinade in the pan, then add a splash of white wine.
Pour over the shrimp and place them on the platter, garnishing with the lemon pieces. Drizzle the avocado dressing over the tomatoes and avocado. You can sprinkle more cilantro over the shrimp with a squeeze of lemon, too. Serve immediately.
I love all the textures of this dish. Fluffy, soft rice. Crisp, sweet but spicy shrimp. Creamy Avocado and Cool, sweet tomatoes. What's not to love? Let your shrimp scream.