Category Archives: shrimp

Earth Day & Ethereal Shrimp Ceviche

‘Earth is our spaceship. There’s no other. Protect it…’ – was my verbal tribute to the Earth Day few days ago along with this Martian-looking image of the low tide vista some place beautiful. It brought the cozy memories of my most recent travel to Florida, and of course of all things ‘Floribbean’ including its food staple CEVICHE!
Shrimp Ceviche ©

Bon Appetit magazine named ‘crudo’, which includes carpaccio, sashimi and other raw sea food creations seasoned with sweet, spicy and acidic components, the dish of 2014. Ceviche (raw seafood and fish) dish is hot on this list. Pristine fresh fish, scallops, even skate join this list with many inexpected spice takes on this Latin/Central American delight. I chose to showcase the Shrimp Ceviche starring freshly cooked shrimp reserving the hard core raw challenges for some hot days later this summer. Some authentic Peruvian recipes use raw shrimp, but I will stick to the cooked one because I wasn’t the one catching it, ha-ha.

The surreal scenery of one of our first nights in New Smyrna, FL with the gorgeous oceanview provides a perfect back drop for this kind of the dish and just to support the mood I found this amateur YouTube recording of the sunrise at the same place if you wish to see it in the day light or, at the sunrise to be exact.

Oh, those rear lucky days of fun in the sun, sandcastling, trying (and inevitably failing) YOLO (you only live once), dog-chasing sandpipers. Refreshing the taste buds in between with fresh ceviche and a glass of rose… 
Isn’t it the way life should be lived more of the time? Routine chores interrupted by whispering ocean breeze and spectacular sunset. Lazy seagul to watch while making your bed, hearing waves while falling asleep… 
The ocean-side theme has imprinted so much in my heart I’m even re-designing our bedroom based on this inspiration now. It’s going great and I will sure post the results once the project is done. You will see exactly this seagull picture framed among other things.
I’m also dreaming about visiting Peru quite often.

The first top notch shrimp ceviche I tried was not in Peru though. It was in Philadelphia at Nuevo Latino restaurant run by the renown Chef Guillermo Pernot. Two times James Beard award winner, Chef Pernot is a world’s expert of ceviche dishes and even published a book since called Ceviche with lots of exotic recipes worth trying. He now runs the chain of Cuba Libre restaurants specialized in ‘Criollo’ cuisine in Philadelphia, Washington, Orlando and Atlantic City.  Guess what, his shrimp ceviche is still on the menu! He serves his shrimp ceviche signature dish floating in the pool of the blackened tomato and pepper spicy gazpacho (the veggies are grilled, blackened and then ground in an old-fashioned way). Mine version is more of a hot day ‘take a break with rose’ style, but is nevertheless uber tasty.

Here are my few tips on how to make shrimp ceviche a success:
a. use the freshest shrimp of the best quality as if you were a real Peruvian, or just have caught this shrimp yourself in St. Lawrence river (at the level of Sorel) an hour ago;
b. salt matters: it’s not a joke – avoid table salt by all means, if you can’t afford to buy Maldon yet (my case), choose a quality flaky sea salt from Normandy for $2.99 from Avril/amazon or Greek sea salt, or Himalayan or other great salts that are 100% natural and not that ‘salty;
c. don’t overmarinate your ceviche;
d. customize the garnish and seasoning with your preferred things: I add mint, a dash of smoked chili or paprika and sometimes mix shirm with lime-brined fresh fish (that goes to the fish ceviche);

e) sweet potato chips are not just a staple in Peruvian cuisine, they are easy to make and supe-deliscious with ceviche.

A glass of nice pinot gris or rose will boost the indulgment. In no time you will be transported to some ocen-view place you feel like you belong to. If shrimp is not your thing, try lobster rolls (btw the images in that post were from the same place although during a day).

One last word: if you happen to be allergic to shrimp like me, the Nordic shrimp from Atlantic will guarantee your safety (I suppose you can find equivalents in other areas). Tested and approved by the undersigned.

Have fun making your shrimp ceviche and please let me know how it goes.
Great week-end cooking to all of you!
Other great dishes with shrimp: Shrimp & Fish Soup Provencal ;
Yields: 4 portions
1 pound (454g) medium small shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 limes, juiced
1 lemon, juiced + for seasoning
1 small orange, juiced (optional)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) quality olive oil
3 tablespoons (45 ml) maple syrup or honey
½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of smoked paprika or chili (optional)

1 teaspoon Kosher or flaky sea salt
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 small tomato, minced (optional)
3 tablespoons scallion or chives, minced
1/8 cup (35 ml) red onion or shallot, minced or thinly sliced
1 medium jalapeno (35 ml), cubed
1 small yellow, orange or red pepper (250 ml or 1 cup)
1 small cucumber (250 ml or 1 cup), cubed
1 small avocado, cubed for garnish (optional)
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced for garnish (optional)
Plantain, tortilla chips or rice crisps for the side serving.
Add the shrimp to the large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes.*
Drain and run under the ice cold water to chill. Cut the shrimp into 1-inch sized pieces and transfer to a bowl. Add the lime, lemon and orange juices, combine and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
Mix olive oil, maple syrup, lemon zest and smoked paprika. Add tomato, scallions, red onion, jalapeno and yellow pepper and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the vegetable mix into the shrimp mix and let sit at the room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.

Shrimp & Fish Soup à la Provençal

Another soup with shrimp bursting with flavours and textures:  a mix of elements from Southern bouillabaisse and Northern chowder … How’s that for eclectic?

It might look like an elaborate dish but the process of preparation is simple and straightforward and  you can have a great dinner ready in a flash. I love the background Provencal taste and versatility of this soup: you can replace the ingredients almost as you please. Make it vegetarian by swapping fish & shrimp for green beans, pasta and pistou; stock for vegetarian and, voilà, a take on Ina Garten’s Provencal Vegetable Soup. Or, if you have a variety of small fresh fish and some mussels – skip the potatoes and carrots and bring the assorted fish and seafood in, add some zesty roux and you gotcha – home-made bouillabaisse…

Although this soup is featuring fish and crustaceans prominently, the real star of it is a small fennel bulb and/or crushed fennel seeds. Yep, that is the ingredient that delivers a unique taste of Provence in combination with saffron, garlic, tomatoes, wine and stock. Not to mention how famously well it goes with fish, potatoes and olives.  Anise is another name used for fennel, the smell and flavor of which many find difficult to warm to, but if you are already a fan of bouillabaissethis should not be an issue.  I noticed long time ago that sometimes those who like fennel don’t like dill and vice versa (kind of Southern vs Northern taste), but hopefully the combination of both in this dish will bring more converts from both sides.
This soup is seriously packed with good-for-you stuff, but first a few more words about fennel. In addition to the dramatic list of its health benefits of this herb, it is considered to be one of the 9 sacred herbs of Anglo-Saxons. And here are some few curious historical facts about this mysterious plant (you might or might not know about):
– In Ancient Greece, the word marathon meant ‘’place of fennel’. The battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. which happened in a plain with fennel was named after it. Consequently, the name of long-distance endurance race, the ‘’marathon’’, comes from the legend of those times when a Greek runner who was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. He ran the whole distance non-stop, and collapsed from exhaustion upon reaching the destination and proclaiming ‘’We have won!’’

–  According to the Greek myth, the fire was stolen from the gods by Prometheus, who hid it in a hollow fennel stalk (and paid a big price for that as we know).
– The ancient Romans believed that chewing fennel controls the obesity.
– In Medieval times fennel was put in the keyholes to keep out ghosts and spirits, particularly on Midsummer’s Eve when evil spirits were thought to roam freely as the sun turned southwards.
Fennel has been used with preparing fish since long time ago. Nicholas Culpepper, English botanist and physician of the mid 1600s wrote that fennel ‘’consumes that phlegmatic humour, which fish most plentifully afford and annoy the body with, though few that use it know wherefore they do it; I suppose the reason for its benefit this way is because it is an herb of Mercury and under Virgo, and therefore bears antipathy to Pisces.’’
The Ancient Romans, Chinese and Hindus used fennel as an antidote to poisons. According to Culpepper, fennel was an effective antidote for poisonous mushrooms and snake bites and was used as a treatment for the bites of rabid dogs.
Back to our soup. Here are some useful tips on this wonderful and hearty concoction.
Selecting fish & shrimp: I used salmon fillets and peeled Nordic shrimp this time and it worked very well. Most of the time, however, I find salmon a bit boring and use white, firm cold water fish, such as, grouper, haddock or cod.  As for the shrimp, please feel free to use the crustacean of your choice.
Giving your soup a heft: I am not a big fan of flour or starch thickening, so when I wish to make my soup heavier, I just add a few tablespoons of corn meal (which is neutral and gluten free) 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
Step No. 1: boiling potatoes and carrots separately will help them to cook faster than when they are in the acidic environment. Step No. 2: when sautéing veggies, let them sit in the frying pan a little bit before stirring to allow a bit of caramelizing, don’t just jump on stirring all the time.  Add a bit of water or wine if your veggies stick to the skillet. Step No.3: While it’s good to have a tasty home-made broth added to it, you will still have a very palatable result without it – just replace the stock with boiled water.
Killer App: If you don’t have any fresh fennel, use some crashed fennel seeds for that Southern kick and make a cultural substitution, i.e. celery instead of fennel bulb.

Optionally, add black or green olives and/or capers into the plates when ladling soup in for an extra Mediterranean kick.  Enjoy!
Shrimp & Fish Soup à la Provençal
2 cups of water
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small carrot, peeled and cubed
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp fennel seeds crushed (optional)
½ tsp chili flakes
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1 medium onion, minced
1 leek, white part only, julienned
1 small fennel bulb (or 2 celery stalks), fronds removed, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes
½ cup dry white wine (or 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons fresh dill (or parsley), chopped
½ lb salmon (grouper, haddock, or other white firm fish) fillet
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
 4 cups fish (or chicken) stock
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh dill, chopped for garnish
In a large pot, add potatoes, carrots and bay leaves; cover with 2 cups of water, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Set aside.
In the meantime, cut the fish into small cubes and put aside along with shrimps.
Heat the olive oil, butter, chili flakes and fennel seeds in the skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion, leek, fennel and garlic and sauté over the medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the veggies softened. Add tomatoes and sauté for another 2 minutes until they begin to break down. Add wine, increase to high heat and stir for 2 minutes. Add fish and shrimp* and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add stock, orange zest and bring to boil. Incorporate with cooked potatoes and carrots. Bring to boil, skim the foam (if any) and simmer stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Verify the seasoning. Ladle the soup into plates and serve immediately with lemon wedges and crusted bread on the side. 
*If shrimp is already cooked, add it to the soup 2 minutes before the end.

Nordic Shrimp Deviled Avocado

Nordic shrimp stuffed avocado is almost a no-recipe party deal with guaranteed success. My family members have pretty different tastes, but we all agreed on the winning combination of the ingredients in it. Oddly enough, we first made it to fit the choice of the wine we would have selected. Weird, but true (it’s usually the opposite): we were inquiring about Bourgogne Aligoté when sommelier at the liquor store gave us a flyer with summer recipes developed by their chefs to match the new wine arrivals. The festive picture of the stuffed avocados quickly caught our eye. And there we were on a hot summer night, grilling avocados on a BBQ before stuffing them with chilled zesty shrimp salad few hours later.  
Boy-oh-boy, they were delicious: delicate sweet Nordic shrimps soaked in yogurt herbal lemony mix, drowning in the nutty-creamy-smoky avocado flesh with little accents of a bacon crisp, Tabasco and lemon zest. Pure Heaven!  And, guess what? This appetizer is just as good with a simple rosé as it is with Aligoté or Sémillon varieties (as we had a chance to experiment later in summer).
Now that we have to close our BBQ for winter (hopefully not this week, may be the sun will still give us some slack this week-end), I am using the sandwich grill to char the avocado halves. A no-grill version is also good, but in this case I suggest you remove the avocado flesh with a spoon, cut it into 1.5 cm (3/4 in.) dice, gently stir them with the shrimp mix and then fill in the avocado peels.  Garnish with bacon bits, lemon zest and herbs. Finally, the recipe works perfectly well with fresh cilantro or dill replacing tarragon leaves in winter.  
Summer or fall; rain or shine – you should really give it a try!
Yields: 4 servings
225 g (1/2 lb) pre-cooked Nordic shrimp
60 ml (1/4 cup) plain yogurt
60 ml (1/4) cup chopped fresh tarragon (or cilantro, or dill)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Tabasco to taste
2 avocados
125 ml (1/2 cup) bacon, cooked and crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat the BBQ or the sandwich grill to medium high. In a bowl, combine the shrimp, yogurt, half the tarragon (or cilantro, or dill) leaves, half the lemon zest, all of the lemon juice, the Tabasco and salt and pepper. Store in the refrigerator.
Cut avocados in halves and remove the pits. Brush the avocado halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill cut-side down on the BBQ or sandwich grill for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Divide the shrimp salad among the avocado halves. Garnish with bacon bits, the rest of herbs and lemon zest.
Adapted from SAQ (The Société des alcools du Québec) Summer 2013 Recipes Collection.

How We Almost Made It to the Land of Shrimp & Bean Soup with Surprise

There is only one kind of shrimp that I can eat in mass without risking my face turning into a fire bucket – it’s a tiny wild-caught Nordic shrimp. There is something special about it as I am allergic to any other shrimp. In the US they are often referred to as Maine shrimp and here, in Quebec, we call them crevettes de Matane.  Matane is a city (and national park) in Gaspésie peninsula on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River (Canadian East coast) at the mouth of Matane River, a heavenly environment for Nordic shrimp to thrive because of the delta and the abundant beaver population.  

Back in August we were planning a trip to Gaspésie to get lost in the Atlantic scenery (with its monumentally unmatched wilderness), hike till we drop and, of course, unwind with local food. I could hardly think of a better end of the earth to go to, as even Mik’maq Natives (who occupied this land before the first Europeans arrived) called it Gespeg which means ‘the place where the land ends’. The place is also a Nordic heaven of edible wild plants, mushrooms, flowers, wild fruits, seeds and berries; a real Mecca for an avid forager.
We made reservations at Forillon National park and at some interesting spots along Route 132, which goes parallel to the shore all the way (amazing!).  Matane was supposed to be one of our stops.  Our lovely lab doggy was sure part of a plan: she just loves chasing birds along the ocean… Unfortunately, she also loves chasing anything else that flies, so she gulped a few nasty wasps just on the morning of our travel and we had to bring her to the vet.   Consequently, we had to cancel our Atlantic getaway (till better times) in favor of caregiving for the doggy’s growing goitre (French for goiter). We will never know if she really screwed up our trip or saved us from something: the sweet silence is one of her major virtues. The bottom line is – she is one of the best pets we ever had and was forgiven instantly just on these grounds.  
As for me, I went straight to the fish market and bought a huge bag of Crevettes de Matane to help the distress. I made zuppa di Fagioli (white bean soup), cooled it down to the room temperature, garnished with basil and Nordic shrimp (with tons of extra shrimp and Romesco sauce on a side) and had it watching the apocalyptic Rogen’s movie ‘’This Is the End’’. I perked up – the pain was gone…
I used the recipe from the book’Full of Flavour: Create… How to Think Like a Chef’’  written by London-based (Cyprus-born) chef Maria Elia, who is quite famous for her audacious yet successful dish experiments. The book was published (in English) in 2011 and quickly became a winner of UK Gourmand Book Award for best UK female chef which, I guess, speaks for itself.  I bought it last spring (French version) and tried many of her innovative twists. She encourages experimentation and creativity in cooking when following taste or season. This soup is one of the great examples of her approach. Based on a classic Italian bean soup, she added a bold touch of grilled shrimp and some fresh Greek basil to garnish it with and decided to serve it as a cold soup in summer.  Although it is equally delicious when warm, the taste of the cold version is totally different and with accentuated flavors -excellent for a hot summer day.  The beauty of this dish is also that you can make the bean soup ahead, even freeze it for a few days up until you are ready with your herb-shrimp garnish.  Packed with protein, fiber, carbohydrates, iron, selenium, folate, Vitamin B6, etc. – it is really a health supporting dish if ever there was one. And, by the way, if you don’t like basil, swap it with parsley, dill, cilantro, tarragon, sage, chives (they are all good matches for this combo). Finally, if you can’t get a hold of Nordic shrimp, try with any other shrimp (as the original recipe suggests or just skip it and have a pure vegetarian white bean soup with the herb of your choice. I’ve had it once with a dash of smoked paprika (smoke goes lovely with beans) and baby arugula or spinach and it was delicious. 
Last week I was really excited to see the Nordic shrimp back on the shelves in abundance and at a very low price.  That means that the shrimping is on, the quota has been raised and the tiny shrimp is still, fortunately, sustainable. Apparently, the population of the little inch-long Pandalus Borealis(scientific name),  which has been supporting commercial fisheries worldwide for decades, fluctuates from year to year dramatically and highly depends on the water temperature during the time of reproduction.  Wild Nordic shrimp is the cleanest and healthiest of all shrimps feeding on plankton. It plays a major role in the oceanic food chain and may serve as early indicator of changing climate due to their sensitivity to temperature.   
In 2012 the research indicated that the Northern shrimp population has once again declined and was below sustainable levels. The Nordic shrimp almost disappeared from the stores. I was happy to learn about this year’s better statistics. But we can never be sure for how long, which is why I feel really blessed every time I can taste the sweet treat in a successful dish combination.
Scandinavian people like their Nordic shrimp in Smorgastarta cakes and sandwiches; North Americans like it in rolls, tacos and pastas.  Here, in Quebec, they are sold already freshly cooked, peeled and deveined (on the boat, right upon shrimping), so the most popular way is to use them in salads and wraps. One of my favorite appetizers with it is (a riff from the 80s when avocados were a rare catch) the Nordic shrimp cocktail served in a grilled avocado half. It is fast and easy: the grilled avocado brings vivid to the sweetness of the Nordic shrimp and makes a great party stunner. But my true favs are actually soups, including the one I described above and a hearty version for a colder season: Salmon & Nordic Shrimp Soup. Stay tuned for the recipe –it’s really awesome!
Yields: 4 portions
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
3 shallots, minced
400g (398ml) white beans, cooked (or canned)
1 ¾ cup (450 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
Salt & pepper to taste
1 pinch of chili flakes
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
16 tiger shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch of chili flakes
1 lemon cut in quarters
1 tbsp fresh Greek basil, minced
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil; add shallots and garlic and sauté on a low heat for about 10 minutes. Add cooked beans (drained), chicken stock and bring to boil. Simmer on the low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool and then pulse in the blender into a liquid puree consistency.  Add salt, pepper, chili flakes and lemon juice. If the soup is too thick, add a bit of boiled water.  Let cool to the room temperature and place into the fridge (for the cold version) or just add the shrimp garnish and serve. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat the oil with chili flakes in a frying pan on a high and sauté shrimp* for 2 minutes up until they are pink but still slightly translucent (for the crunch). Transfer them to a bowl with lemon juice and minced basil (or other herb).  Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with shrimp and herb mix and lace with olive oil. Serve immediately.
*Note: If using already cooked Nordic shrimp, just heat them up on a very high heat for not more than a minute enough to get slightly smoked with chili infused oil.
Adapted from: ‘’Jeux de saveurs’’ by Maria Elia, Parfum d’encre, 2013

Roasted Shrimp with Sparkling Apple Cider

This shrimp fiesta is something to behold. It is beautiful and the mix of spicy chilli flakes, tangy garlic and subtle apple cider sweetness only enhances the shrimp taste. Simmered in olive oil with the rest of the ingredients, the parsley works as a stabilizer infusing the dish with deep, rich flavor. It is fast and easy to prepare; you can bake it, broil it or grill it – the result will be amazingly delicious! It’s also a party pleaser and a great addition to the picnic table.
I usually use white wine in this recipe: this time it was just an experiment, but it worked even better with some sparkling apple cider! It added a very special note to the wonderful sticky flavor absorbed by the shells, so the shrimps turned out to be even juicier from the inside and crispier from the outside. Serve the shrimps with some steamed rice and veggies to offset the richness, or just scatter them on the board with some lemon wedges, napkins and finger bowls with warm water (it will be messy, but this is a part of a joy of eating roasted shrimp). And don’t forget a big empty bowl for shells! ENJOY!!!
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup apple cider (or white wine)
1/2 lemon juice (optional)
1 pound (about 24-30) medium shrimp in shells
coarse salt to taste
black pepper freshly ground to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230C). Add olive oil to the roasting pan and sprinkled with chilli pepper and put in the hot oven for 2-3 minutes to warm up. Remove the pan, add the shrimp in a single layer and bake until pink for 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan, sprinkle the shrimp with garlic, parsley, add a big splash of apple cider, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Return to the oven and bake for another 4-5 minutes or broil if you wish for about 3 minutes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.