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Appetizer or Entree, It Doesn't Much Matter With Shrimp

By Caroline Clough in Food on Jun 22, 2007 5:16PM

Last week Chicagoist felt like getting our shrimp on. So we did. Having recently visited Florida's gulf coast we had a specific hankering for some medium-sized-almost-lobster-like-in-texture shrimp. So we went out and got half a pound of them. Originally we intended to dump a huge amount of Old Bay all over them and call it a day. Fortunately for us we didn't have any Old Bay and without Old Bay we got to play a little bit. The end result wasn't as spicy or overpowering as Old Bay seasoning often is but didn't lack in flavor.

This was, for us, an appetizer followed by grilled flank steak, grilled asparagus and salad. Can you say surf and turf? We certainly did. Because this was not meant to be an entree we started with only half a pound of shrimp. This was the perfect amount for three people just whetting their appetites before a main course. But if you were, say, interested in serving this for a main course or for a larger crowd you would definitely have to up your poundage. This dish can be made ahead of time whether you like your shrimp chilled (we don't especially but if you do, more power to you) or hot. The timing's a bit different depending on which temperature you favor but either way, you and your family/friends/whoever will be be able to gorge yourselves in messy fingered style.

As we mentioned before this recipe serves 2-3 people. Simply double, triple or quadruple the ingredients as needed.

What You Need:

1/2 pound medium gulf shrimp, uncooked, shell-on (hopefully not previously frozen)
2 bay leaves, ground up
6 cloves garlic, crushed/minced/pressed
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon cut into wedges
Enough melted butter to satisfy yourself
Cocktail sauce

What You Do:

1. Bring to boil, in a large pot, water.

2. Once the water is boiling add all the spices and the shrimp.

3. Cook for about three minutes (more if you have added additional shrimp). To test the shrimp, just fish one out and cut it open ... if the meat is a solid white in the center then it's good to go. It's easy to overcook these shrimp so be vigilant.

4. Drain shrimp, keeping a bit of the spice broth. Then put the shrimp in its serving dish and pour the spice broth back over it. Squeeze about a quarter of a lemon over it and serve with melted/drawn butter and cocktail sauce.

And remember to include an additional bowl or plate for people to put their cast off shells into! You could, then, make shrimp stock with those shells ... if you were so inclined.