My father lived in South Florida, so growing up I would eat a lot of seafood and learned quickly that you can overcook seafood very easily if you don’t know what you are doing. Shrimp was one of the first seafood that I learned how to cook on my own. I remember being so proud of myself. Yesterday I shared a tip on the correct way to cook, boiled, sautéed or steamed shrimp so be sure to check it out. It can be a little overwhelming when purchasing shrimp for your recipe. There are over 300 separate species of shrimp, so it can be overwhelming as to which to choose. Here are a few of the most common selections that you see at the grocery store with cooking suggestions.
White shrimp: Mild flavor with a slightly salty, shrimpy taste and firm texture. Great for salads and stir-fry.
Pink shrimp: Mild to medium flavor with a medium texture. Perfect for shrimp cocktail.
Brown shrimp: Full, robust flavor with medium texture. Best when used for full-flavor dishes like gumbo or for frying.
Rock Shrimp: My favorite!! They are called the armadillo of the shrimp world. They earn their name because their shells are “hard as a rock”. They are a small shrimp reaching a maximum size of up to six inches. Rock shrimp has a flavor similar to spiny lobster…firm textured and sweet. Once you decide which shrimp you would like to use in your recipe it is important to know how to cook them.
Deep fry shrimp by preheating (canola, vegetable, or peanut) oil to 375 degrees F. Carefully place a small amount of breaded or battered shrimp in cooker. Fry shrimp 2 to 3 minutes, depending on size of shrimp, until golden brown outside and opaque in the center.
Stir-fry or sauté shrimp by preheating a pan over medium-high heat. Add butter, margarine, olive oil, or flavored cooking oil. Carefully place shrimp in pan. Stir-fry large shrimp for 3 to 4 minutes; medium 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes, and small/bay 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Here is one of my favorite shrimp pasta recipes that is perfect for a weeknight meal.
Spicy Shrimp Pasta in a Garlic Tomato Cream Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-pound shrimp without shells, and deveined
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Jar of Bellisari’s Calabrian and Sweet Tomato Fennel Spread
1/4 cup water
1/2 cube chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano dried
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz Spaghetti (Sub any pasta you would like)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook on one side for about 1 minute, until shrimp turns pink on that side. While it cooks, sprinkle the top of shrimp with crushed red pepper, paprika and salt to cover every single shrimp. Make sure not to crowd the shrimp in the skillet, otherwise moisture will form, and shrimp won't sear right. And, don't skimp on spices. Using spatula turn shrimp over to the other side and cook for about 2 more minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate, being careful to leave all the oil in the skillet.
To the same skillet, add minced garlic and cook on medium high heat in the olive oil that will have a nice reddish color from paprika and crushed red pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, occasionally stirring, until onions soften.
Add Bellisari’s Calabrian and Sweet Tomato Fennel Spread and bouillon cube dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water. Add basil and oregano, mix, bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, mixing occasionally and crushing all tomatoes into very small bites, until the sauce reduces just a bit. Season with more red pepper and salt, if needed. In the end, while on simmer, add heavy cream, mix it in, and immediately remove from heat.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Drain.
Add back the cooked shrimp and cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Mix everything well to combine. Reheat on low simmer, if needed. Do not bring to boil or high heat as it might affect the sauce texture. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
When serving, I like to sprinkle the top of pasta with just a touch of crushed red pepper.