Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shrimp Cocktail Rules!

I'm about to embark on a journey of seafood. It's a proper day off for me. My bigger half is at work, which leaves me to divide and conquer. When he gets home, there is going to be a thorough ravaging of all things of the sea... and delightful to the nines side dishes! But let's face it. If you want to fancy up a dinner, then you've got to add an appetizer. And my favorite of the old school appetizers is the shrimp cocktail.
Now, when the big one is at work, that leaves me sans vehicle. Yes, we only have one car. Yes, it is a Toyota Echo. Yes, it was my biggest purchase ever, and I refuse to let it go. But yeah, if he's at work, I ain't got 4 wheels. Ipso facto, I've got 2 wheels though. And so I shall make like the fat bottomed girl I am, hop on my bike, and head from Salem over to Beverly to my favorite little fish market: Rowand Fisheries. 
Rowan Fisheries is located just over the bridge from Salem to Beverly, and makes for a lovely bike ride on a bright sunny day like today. Check out the view! It's amazing, and part of the reason I love where I was born and bred. Here is the sea, and to your left, here is my fish market. Doesn't get any more real than that, does it?
So at the fish market, my plan is to get something for a main protein at dinner, and a frozen smoked haddock and pound of little necks for tomorrow's adventure (keen to know what it is, aren't you?). Since I believe in going big, I also saw some beautiful small size raw shrimps, still in their shells. How could I possibly leave without these, so I asked for half a pound, and henceforth, the shrimp cocktail appetizer idea was hatched, my good fish monger sending me on my way. A short, and gloriously breezy bike ride later, and I was back home. 
Shrimp cocktails are normally seen in your local super market, either already cooked and sealed in a plastic bag in the freezer section (ew), or thawed in the fish case and already cooked (EW!) If you want a really good shrimp cocktail, then you must have the patience to cook your own shrimp, to devein them, to deshell them. Deveining shrimp is not all that hard. Take a sharp knife, run it through the shell and down the back, and pull out the poop shoot, which (duh) looks a bit like a vein. I like to cut all the way down the shell to the tail and then pull off the shell (to be saved and used in tomorrow's adventure... wouldn't you like to know).
When the shrimp are clean, put on your oven's broiler, and give everything a quick massage in canola oil, and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Since my oven's broiler runs down the center of the top of the oven, I try to arrange the shrimp onto a cookie sheet, covered with tin foil as close as possible to the center of the sheet. The point is to get them all pretty close to the flame so that they cook evenly. When the broiler is lit, make sure your rack is on the top notch and throw in your cookie sheet with the shrimp. It's a minute and 30 seconds on one side, and then remove and flip the shrimp over. Another minute under the broiler and your sweet little shrimps are done. 
At this point, I like to chill the shrimp, and make my own cocktail sauce. It's pretty darn easy: dice a half of a ripe tomato and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil. When soft, add in three tablespoons of ketchup. Add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Stir this up, and mash a bit until only a little chunky. If you like things spicy, it's two to three tablespoons of horseradish, and a dash of tangy Worcestershire. Mix everything up, and you are done. Chill both until it is... shall I say... the fine dining hour is upon us?

No comments:

Post a Comment