If I told you what I had for dinner tonight you wouldn't believe me. Now, you know I pride myself in the balance of my menus, but tonight, I threw all that out the window. I had a Chinese appetizer, an Italian main dish and a Spanish, no, let me rephrase, Catalan dessert... and it worked!
Like a good time, it wasn't planned, it just happened. I had made the Minced Chicken in Lettuce Wraps the night before and I had doubled the recipe, so there was plenty for an appetizer tonight. I wanted to have shrimp, but I didn't want to complicate my life, so I decided to improvise with whatever was handy in the refrigerator and the pantry. This afternoon, I was wrapping up a new post for Crema Catalana and I could barely finish before I was down in the kitchen pulling out pots and pans to make some for dinner. And...that's how the meal developed.
Oh yes, as to the shrimp, it is a variation of the one I make when I have dinner parties. It is so simple you can add it to your list of main dishes for a midweek dinner party. The basil paste is found in the produce section of most supermarkets. It's very handy to have on hand, particularly in the winter. You can always just crush a few basil leaves as a substitute.
Make sure you serve it with yellow rice, as in saffron yellow rice. In a pinch, the menu I just described, though odd, works, although you will have a lot of explaining to do to your guests!
2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, garlic, basil paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter, parsley, crumb and garlic mixture.
In the microwave, use a small bowl to melt the butter with 2 garlic cloves minced, parsley, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, panko, salt, and pepper until combined.
In a 14-inch oval or rectangular gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the lemon basil butter mix over the shrimp making sure you spread the butter mixture evenly . Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. Place under a broiler for 1 minute (watch!). Serve with lemon wedges.
This post was originally written in March 2010