Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shrimp with pasta

Shrimp pasta

It's not all eating out; sometimes I manage to put together a dish or two at home. Been doing this one for years--about time I put it on record, or at least online, or at least on this blog.

So, preparation: a pound of 16/20 shrimp, peeled and deveined, save the peel, brine the shrimp in salty water (no proportions, just added salt to a bowl of water till it tasted briny). 

Rinse, dry, de-stem, finely chop up a handful of Italian parsley (or don't finely chop--depends on how much of a hurry or how finicky you want to be). 

Fry the shrimp shells in olive oil (Half a cup? I just poured till the pan was covered). Every time I do this dish the wife passes by and tells me: "smells delicious!" I reply: "That's just the shells. I haven't even started." 

(If you can get head-on shrimp and I can on occasion in Latin-American or Asian groceries, get head-on shrimp; the flavor in those heads is out of this world and worth infusing into your oil or pasta or whatever. Never been able to find 16/20 head-on shrimp alas; if I ever do, that's worth a post right there) 

Pick out the shells (easiest way to do this is with a slotted spoon, and a second spoon to press out all the juices and oil). Turn off  heat and set aside.

Boil pasta. You know the drill: four quarts of water for a pound of pasta, put the pot on high, wait till it boils, then add salt (takes longer to bring to a boil otherwise). A tablespoon will do, but (as with the brine) I just keep adding till I taste it.

Add pasta. Stir, make sure the noodles separate. When the water starts bubbling again, turn heat down to medium.

I use dried pasta (tried making pasta once, won't do that again anytime soon--don't have the patience). If the box says "10 minutes," I set the timer for nine.

Now the clock is ticking. The next few steps should happen fast, in the right order and at the right moment.

Heat up the flavored oil again (about two or three minutes in, or half the noodles' boiling time). Add a tablespoon of minced garlic. Turns out the phytochemicals that make garlic so healthy are more stable when aged a little, so we keep a pint of the minced stuff in the fridge. 

Don't let the garlic brown (add them a bit later if you like). Two minutes before the timer beeps, add the shrimp, toss. 

When the timer beeps, immediately pull the pasta out of the pot (I use one with a strainer), shake once, twice, into the shrimp and oil. Count one to sixty, mixing the pasta in the oil, letting the noodles flavor the sauce with starchy salty water, letting the not-quite-cooked pasta--and this is why I boil them a minute short --suck up the sauce's flavor. Mix.

Add fresh-cracked pepper. Mix. Squeeze the juice of one lemon. Mix some more. Add parsley. Mix still more. 

When you've counted to sixty, turn off the heat. Doesn't matter if the parsley or lemon juice isn't properly incorporated in yet--the pasta and shrimp are cooked. You can mix some more after (just don't take too long).

The result:

Al dente pasta perfectly seasoned, crispy-fresh shrimp also perfectly seasoned (the flesh practically snaps off between your teeth they're so crisp), tart lemon juice to cut the richness, faint herby parsley to scent shrimp and pasta and add color. 

Don't belittle that color; we enjoy a dish not just with our tongue but our eyes (popping pink-orange, even more vivid green)--and nose (briny shrimp, touch of garlic).

Serve hot. Just before serving add more fresh-cracked pepper and a quick dose of the really good olive oil (I use a bottle imported from Tuscany). 

Easy? Enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment