© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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There are several species of crustaceans available in the Pyrenean region, fished from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The largest are called langostinos or langoustines, which are actually slim-bodied members of the lobster family. Red in color, their wide, heavier tails distinguish them from shrimp and prawns. The next in size is the red shrimp (crevette rose), which can be up to four inches in length. Red shrimp are difficult to transport alive, and are usually available boiled or frozen. Finally, North Sea prawns (crevette gris) are only about two inches in length and have an excellent, distinctive taste. The frozen shrimp and prawns that are sold in North American markets rarely provide the precise species or provenance of the product, which can come from any ocean.
In northern Spain it is most common to find the simple and classic preparation of shrimp or prawns quickly sauteed in a bit of garlic and olive oil. For a change, I created this shrimp marinade composed of common Mediterranean ingredients. This recipe is based on a technique to marinate shrimp with lemons, learned from Barry Morgenstern, a friend who trained at the famous Cordon Bleu in Paris. The marinade quickly infuses deeply into the hot shrimp, imparting bright flavors deep into each morsel. Once all the ingredients are assembled this is an extremely easy recipe, in which all the work can be done in advance.
zest of 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice, from approximately 2 large lemons
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon wine or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 black olives, kalamata or oil-cured, pitted, and halved
6 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf, crumbled
pinch of piment d'Espelette1 or cayenne powder
1 to 1 ½ pounds large shrimp
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced, optional
Prepare marinade in a large bowl by combining lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, oil, olives, anchovies, red onion, bay leaf, and piment d'Espelette.
Peel and clean shrimp, leaving tails on. Partially fill a pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and boil for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, or until shrimp pinks and the flesh looks opaque. Remove immediately. Drain and place hot shrimp into marinade. If additional liquid is needed to cover most of the shrimp, add a few tablespoons of the shrimp poaching water to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours, turning the shrimp once.
Serve with avocado slices (if desired), on a salad, or by themselves as a shrimp cocktail.
1 Piment d'Espelette is a small, pleasantly spicy red pepper that is usually used dried and ground in French Basque cooking. It is available from spanishtable.com.