perfect sautéed shrimp

I’m the first to admit that this is a less-than-perfect cooking blog. I use a free WordPress theme that is probably better suited to a political journal that, after being updated almost every day for three months, mysteriously stops in its tracks circa November 2010. My recipes are often poor imitations of 3.5-star recipes I find on the Sunset Magazine website or in back issues of Bon Appétit that I read in the bathroom. When the photographs (by JM) are good, I make them too small; when they’re less than stellar (by me), I attempt to compensate through color correction that might be more at home in a Gaspar Noë film than a food diary. Finally, I am really, really bad about updating and, worse, could and would give you a litany of bad excuses for it if you dared to inquire.

Dear long-suffering reader: thank you for putting up with all that. Truly. You deserve some form of recognition for sticking it out through my foibles as I figure out this whole recipe blog thing. And since I can’t afford to get you a medal for your efforts (I’ve looked into it — gold-plating, as it turns out, costs a fortune), I thought I’d give you what you’ve been looking for all along: a really, really awesome recipe that, with it’s perfection, might undo some of the systemic imperfections of the secret menu saga.

This shrimp recipe is courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated, for which my parents — bless their hearts — gave me a gift subscription over the holidays. I am used to reading Cook’s Illustrated in their bathroom, which is adjacent to the kitchen and, therefore, the site of many a food-related eureka moment — and, no, that is not a poop joke, but I guess it’s sort of too late for denial (yet another reason this blog is imperfect: I use the word “poop” in close proximity to cooking instructions, which probably means I’m on some kind of FDA most-wanted list). Suffice it to say, I have learned a lot from that little magazine. They test the heck out of everything they write up, and explain basic cooking techniques so clearly that they are pretty much impossible to mess up.

As I have learned, the secret to cooking perfect shrimp is like the secret to doing a good job with your makeup: do not overdo it, lest you end up with a lot of wrinkly, multicolored bits of flesh staring you in the face. Cook’s Illustrated had a public service announcement to this effect in one of its recent issues, listing three or four different ways not to screw the pooch when you’re cooking shrimp. Grilling, frying, sautéing, and one other thing that I forget because I fell into deep and profound love with their sautéing instructions, made it into that list. Below is a fairly faithful adaptation of the shrimp sautée, adjusted for inflation (I used enormous shrimp) and garlic butter (because it’s my attorney and close family friend).

(Perfect) Sautéed Shrimp With Garlic Butter
Serves 2

-1 large pan with a lid
-2 tablespoons of butter, softened
-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
-1 pound of gargantuan shrimp, peeled and deveined
-1/4 teaspoon of sugar
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-1 tablespoon of olive oil
-juice from 1/2 a lemon

Once the butter is soft, mix in the crushed garlic (and a tablespoon of fresh herbs, if you’d like) and set aside in your serving bowl.

Put the cleaned shrimp in a plastic bag or container and sprinkle the sugar and salt over them. Stir to combine.

Now put the pan over medium heat and warm the olive oil. When it’s sizzlin’, add the shrimp in a single layer, and let them cook until they are pink around the edges. Flip them one by one, cover the pan tightly, and turn off the heat. Wait 90 seconds.

Check the shrimp. If they are bright pink on both sides, they’re done. Now add the shrimp to your serving bowl, squeeze in the lemon juice, and toss with the butter until evenly coated. Serve immediately, since these puppies get cold fast. And no need to thank me — the fact that you actually made it to the end of this post is thanks enough.


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