Food & Wine - - ’TIS THE SEASONING -

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.


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.

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