Category Archives: Nordic

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