Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Shrimp Spring Surprise

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I improvise a lot in cooking, and when something turns out very well, I save it as a recipe, which requires a name. I find I am partial to “Surprise,” and since this recipe includes asparagus, “Spring” seemed appropriate. Given the name, I wanted the dish to be light. This was a hit. Serves two.

The very first step is to mince the garlic. Minced garlic requires about 15 minutes to stabilize before it hits the heat.

The dish calls for preserved lemons, which give a nice bitter note, and you can substitute Mark Bittman’s quick “preserved” lemons. If you don’t want to make a full batch, just “preserve” one lemon. I cut off the ends, then slice the lemon into slabs and dice as shown in the video at the link. For one lemon, sprinkle the diced lemon with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, stir, and let sit for half an hour before using

2 tablespoons olive oil (or use 4-5 oz diced pancetta)
1 big bunch large scallions, sliced (or 2 spring onions)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow (or red) bell pepper, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup halved olives (I used a mix of green and Kalamata)
[Optional: 1 jalapeño, including core, chopped small]
[Optional and experimental: 1/2 cup walnut pieces]

2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced (red is okay, but I like the look of yello), chopped
1 preserved lemon with a little of the juice (see note)
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
1 to 1 1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and cut into 2-3 pieces if large

juice of 1 lemon or lime
cilantro, chopped

I should explicitly note that I do all my chopping and lemon squeezing and the like in advance, before I even heat the pan. I have these prep bowls and also some Rösle stainless bowls (11″, 9.4″, 7.9″, 6.3″, and 4.7″). As each ingredient is chopped, it goes into a bowl. (If ingredients are added to the pan at the same time, they can share a bowl.) Lemon juice is squeezed into a bowl.

Once everything is chopped, and I’ve cleaned up knife and cutting board, I heat the oil in my sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, I start adding ingredients to the pan, each bowl at the appropriate time in the cooking process. And as I empty each bowl into the sauté pan, I rinse the bowl and put in in the drainer. Once everything’s added, there’s no clean-up except later for the pan and the bowls from which we ate.

If using pancetta, sauté it for a few minutes to render the fat, then add onion and garlic; otherwise, add onion and garlic once the olive oil is hot. Sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add bell pepper (and jalapeño if using that) and sauté 4-5 minutes more.

Add cherry tomatoes and preserved lemon and continue to cook until tomatoes are cooked and the liquid thickens a bit.

Add vermouth, fish sauce, shrimp, and asparagus and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Squeeze lemon or lime juice over the dish and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Preserved lemons

If you want to make actual preserved lemons, here’s what I do, but these will not be ready for five weeks, so if I have none on hand, I use Mark Bittman’s method linked above. The following recipe is derived from several different on-line recipes. I have made these, and I used the last one when I made the Shrimp Spring Surprise.

8-12 Meyer lemons, depending on jar size
kosher salt

If you can’t find organic lemons, let the lemons soak in a vinegar-water solution for a few minutes to clean the outer peels, then rinse. In any event, wash the lemons well.

Cut the ends off the lemons, then slice vertically into quarters, but not all the way through the lemon, so the quarters are still attached at the base.

Put 1 teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the jar, and add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to the interior of the quartered lemon, rubbing the lemon quarters together a bit to mash the salt into it.

Then mash the lemon into the jar, open end down so that the lemon spreads into a cross shape. Repeat with additional lemons until no more lemons will fit into jar.

Add enough additional fresh lemon juice to cover the lemons completely, cover the jar, and leave it out on the counter for about a week, giving it a turn every so often.

Make a good space for the jar in your fridge, and let it sit for another month or so, with an occasional turn and shake. They’ll keep perfectly, refrigerated, for at least a year.


Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 8:22 am

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