Monday, November 16, 2009
The Holiday Party Twist: Mustard-Caper Pickled Shrimp
First and foremost, my thanks to Burning Pasta's patient readers. Last week's trip out of town was quite successful (a post about it shall be forthcoming at the end of December), and, while the resulting jet-lag is sure to linger for a day or two, we've returned full of new and wonderful ideas to fill the next few months of posts. Let's get right to today's recipe.
Few things are as classic to holiday parties than the old warhorse appetizer known as Shrimp Cocktail. This isn't to say that the dish is a bad thing -- shrimp, horseradish, a nebulous tomato-based sauce; all of these things are quite delicious (no matter their provenance), and they work quite well together.
This being said, as one travels through the month-long antacid advertisement that is the holiday season, Shrimp Cocktail becomes more than ubiquitous. Why not serve something that will set your party apart?
Today's recipe is a great alternative, a sweet-and-sour Southern standard that's been sorely neglected across other regions of the country. It's festive, quick, easy, and can be prepared far before your guests arrive. Let's start cooking.
Mustard-Caper Pickled Shrimp
Makes 1 Pound
2 Quarts Water
2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Lemon, quartered
1 Pound, Shrimp (size of your choosing)
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Capers
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tablespoons White Granulated Sugar
1 clove Garlic, choppped
1 large Red Onion
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 teaspoon Fresh-Cracked Black Pepper
Pinch of Kosher Salt (to taste)
Chives (for garnish, optional)
[Editor's Note: This is a fairly flexible recipe -- depending on whether you like "sweet-and-sour" dishes more heavily weighted in either direction, you should feel free to adjust the amount of Red Wine Vinegar and Sugar accordingly.]
Start by bringing the water, pickling spices, bay leaf, salt, and half of a lemon to a boil, as seen at the top of this post. Once the water is rolling along, toss in your shrimp, shelled and de-veined, leaving the tails on. Monitor the shrimp -- depending on their size, they should be done in two to three minutes, or until pink and just opaque.
Meanwhile, start assembling your marinade. Combine your mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, garlic, pepper and pinch of salt. Whisk these ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and adjust accordingly.
By now, the shrimp should be done. Remove them from the boiling water and keep them nearby. Retain the lemon quarters. Chop up a red onion [Editor's Note: For the photos, all we had on hand was yellow], and add them, along with the capers, to the marinade.
Next, toss the warm shrimp and lemon quarters into the marinade. Try to press things down so that as many shrimp as possible are submerged.
From here, the recipe is essentially done. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, but no more than 24. When ready to serve, spoon everything (leaving the marinade behind) into small bowls, and garnish with the chives. The final product:
This is a great little dish, and always a popular one. I'd double or triple the above amounts for a big party -- a little tangy, a little tart, it's just the thing to get appetites whetted. Best of all, this dish isn't restricted to the holiday season -- you'll find it's just as welcome at a mid-summer picnic. Add this one to your arsenal, and you might wonder how you ever did without it.
Next weekend, we'll return with yet another first course, a little treat for those of you with especially adventurous palates. See you then!
Music: Elvis Presley -- "Song of the Shrimp"