THE SNAPPIEST SHRIMP
Head-on jumbo wild shrimp make a festive holiday main course. But while they are quick to prepare, they are easy to overcook and a pain to peel at the table. Before asking your guests to roll up their sleeves, brine the raw shrimp in a slushy solution of sea salt and baking soda. Alkaline baking soda slightly alters the pH of the shrimp, making for extra-plump meat that is as succulent as lobster and resists overcooking. Added bonus: The meat pulls away from the shells while cooking, so you get all the flavor of shell-on shrimp with none of the struggle of peeling them.
ACTIVE 20 MIN; TOTAL 1 HR 20 MIN SERVES 6
8 cups water 1/2 cup fine sea salt (such as La Baleine) 2 Tbsp. baking soda 3 lb. raw head-on jumbo pink or brown wild Gulf shrimp 3 cups cracked ice 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tsp. black pepper
Combine 8 cups water, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, and stir until salt and baking soda dissolve and water is clear, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Add shrimp and ice. Chill 1 hour. Remove shrimp from brine, and pat dry. Discard brine. Chill shrimp until ready to cook, up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss shrimp with oil and black pepper, and spread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until heads are just opaque, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter, and serve immediately.
WINE Crisp, lemon-zesty Albariño: 2017 Eighty Four Napa Valley-Carneros
TRY THIS METHOD WITH any size shrimp cooked any way.
THE CUT Head-on jumbo(10 to 16 per pound) shrimp THE TIME 1 hour THE RATIO Master brine of 6% salinity, where some of the salt is subbed out for baking soda. Ice keeps the mix cold and the shrimp fresh.