April 18, 2008

Texas Shrimp

I've a small pile of recipe cards sitting here next to my computer that I got from the grocery store a few months ago. The store was having a shrimp promotion in the seafood department one Saturday with several recipe samples and all these nice glossy recipe cards scattered about. I couldn't resist bringing home both the cards and several pounds of shrimp.

I think the cards are just beautiful, which is why they're still sitting here. (I couldn't quite capture the goodness of the pictures with my scanner or my camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it.) They were published by the Texas Department of Agriculture for Texas Shrimp, part of the Texas shrimp marketing program.

There are eight 5x7 cards with some very appetizing shrimp dishes featured on the front of each card. The recipes, created by various Texas restaurant chefs, are on the rear side. Only one recipe, Classic Shrimp Remoulade, from Chef Randy Evans at Brennan's of Houston, seems overly long and a little time-consuming (may be easier to pay the price at the restaurant).

Some of the other recipes found on the cards (and their website) are:

  • Chipoltle Texas Shrimp with Tasso Ham and Picco de Gallo
  • Seared Texas Shrimp with Wild Mushrooms
  • Roasted Scallion Citrus Marinade for Texas Shrimp
  • Texas Shrimp Boil
  • Saarin's Shrimp
  • Grilled Texas Shrimp Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
There are also two more brochure-type cards with four recipes from Molly Fowler, the Dining Diva, familiar to those in the Houston area who watch the local television stations.

I like this recipe, probably because it's more on the fattening side of things.

(Chef Toby Joseph, The Remington Restaurant, Houston, TX)

Serves 4

2 T. butter, divided
2 shallots, roughly chopped
4 ounces sundried tomatoes, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped, divided
3 ounces white wine, divided
8 ounces cream
2 ounces chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
3 ounces ceppo pasta
12 Texas shrimp (10-15 count), peeled and deveined
8 shiitake mushrooms, julienne
2 ounces English peas
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium size pot. Sauté shallots and 3 ounces of the sundried tomatoes until fragrant. Add 1/2 garlic clove and deglaze with 2 ounces of white wine. Add cream, stock and reduce by half. Puree and strain, preferably through a china cap strainer, and season with salt and pepper.

Bring a pot of seasoned water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Heat sauté pan and add remaining butter. Sauté shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, remaining sundried tomatoes and garlic. Deglaze with one ounce of white wine. Add English peas, pasta and sauce. Season with salt and white pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese.

I grew up eating shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. It was plentiful and delicious. It came fresh from the boats along the Texas Gulf Coast, or via the local grocery stores from these same boats. Later, I'd sometimes buy it from men on the side of the road, who brought it out to the suburbs and sold it from ice chests in the back of their pick-up trucks. There was no question of where it came from and it was always fresh, never frozen. This bountiful supply of fresh wild shrimp was a staple, always there, and pretty much taken for granted by most of us in the area.

(Not everyone took fresh shrimp for granted. I once had a mother-in-law, then of Princeton, New Jersey, whose main objective, by the time I entered her life, was to retire to Hilton Head where she planned to eat shrimp every day for the rest of her life. Shrimp aside, I could never understand wanting to leave the close proximity to NYC for South Carolina--I envisioned lots of boring vacations in store for me where there would be nothing to do but play golf and eat shrimp.)

Now it's hard to tell where the shrimp comes from. Much of it comes from Thailand and Vietnam and who knows where. I've heard rumors that my grocery store even has their own shrimp farm in Thailand.

It's a headache to buy shrimp now, with all of the scrutinizing of the various selections and the questioning of the men behind the counter to find out exactly what kind of shrimp they're offering for sale that day.

Before happening upon these recipe cards I'd never realized that some of the shrimp from Texas was farm-raised. I had no clue that Texas produces more farm-raised shrimp than any other state in the U.S. (over 80 percent). I probably still wouldn't know if I hadn't investigated the website address found on the cards.

All this thinking about shrimp reminds me of my favorite Guy Clark song, The South Coast of Texas (you can near a little of it at the link), which is about shrimpers, and which never fails to make me feel a little melancholy whenever I listen to it.


At 6:51 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I would love to get better at cooking shrimp dishes. Too often, I overcook, and they curl into little, tough pink circles. I think the idea is to just "warm" them slightly.

At 8:33 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Right. It doesn't take long for shrimp to cook.


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