Having lived most of my life near the ocean, I deeply miss easy access to fresh seafood. Going to a fish market down at the dock and picking out freshly caught halibut, salmon or cod for dinner was often the highpoint of my grocery shopping week.
Standing in line, I could see the fisherman bringing in their catch for day and was assured of quality and flavor. Living in a land-locked area, I am always a little suspect of what passes for “fresh fish.” Many packages of watery, smelly seafood are not fresh at all, but defrosted.
For that reason, I often purchase packages of IQF (individual quick frozen) fish on sale and store them in my freezer. Treated properly, these bags or boxes of seafood taste almost as good as just-caught. Well, not really. But they’re an acceptable substitute and at least they’re not soggy or don’t go bad on you after a couple of days!
Fish is a nutrient dense food, good for your brain and your heart. If you’ve gotten out of the habit of serving fish at least once a week, consider this quip: “A fish a day keeps the heart doctor away.”
Unfortunately, seafood can be difficult to integrate into family dinners. Small children often do not appreciate the stronger flavors of fishy foods until they are older. And many adults just plain old don’t ever like fish. Almost everyone, however, likes shellfish, especially shrimp.
Shrimp is now the most popular seafood in America. And dinners are easy to put together when you have a bag of shrimp in the freezer. Depending on where you shop, a bag of medium sized cooked or raw shrimp can usually be purchased for a family dinner without breaking the bank. Fancy, larger shrimp will cost more money and just might break the bank if you are feeding a crowd.
The secret to tender shrimp is to cook them quickly. Overcooking can ruin both flavor and texture. Regardless of size, when shrimp turn pink, they’re done. Medium size are usually done in 3-4 minutes; large 5-7 minutes; jumbo take about 7-8 minutes. If cooking in advance, plunge in cold water to stop the cooking process.
The following recipes are simple and delicious. They can be served to family or company. Reader Audrey Bobbitt sent in the elegant Linguine Scampi. The Shrimp Creole is a personal favorite at our house, and the sauce is also tasty with chicken.
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
¾-cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 –teaspoon red pepper flakes
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish
1-pound linguine, freshly cooked
Cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite; about 8-9 minutes.
While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and parsley. Cook shrimp until pink and no longer translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
Drain pasta and divide among plates. Spoon shrimp mixture over linguine, garnish with a couple of pinches Parmesan cheese and serve. Serves 4
1 pound fresh or frozen shelled shrimp, cleaned
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-cup coarsely chopped onion
1-cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1 large can tomatoes (28-ounces), cut up
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
Several dashes hot pepper sauce (according to taste)
1-teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 –teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups hot cooked rice (or more)
¼ cup snipped parsley
In a large saucepan bring 4-6 cups water to boil; add shrimp. Return water to boil, reduce heat and simmer 1-3 minutes or until pink. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
In a large skillet heat the oil. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, bouillon, Worcestershire, brown sugar, thyme and pepper sauce. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or longer.
Combine cornstarch with ¼-cup water; add to sauce in skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Add garlic salt and pepper; taste to adjust seasonings and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add shrimp and heat through.
Combine rice and parsley. Serve shrimp mixture over rice with French bread to sop up the sauce.