Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"I love the smell of shrimp shells in the morning."
I mean it. Do not make this recipe unless you are willing to follow my instructions EXACTLY.
It's not as if I'll be asking you to prepare puff pastry from scratch or shuck a bushel of oysters or bone a grouse -- instead I submit for your consideration an extremely easy appetizer that will bring you raves -- raves, I tell you -- if you will do EXACTLY WHAT I SAY. OK, I'll stop yelling now. But this is one of my most cherished recipes and it breaks my heart to see it screwed up -- and I've seen it screwed up twice in the last few weeks. So, do what I say and do what I do and you'll have an outstanding addition to your recipe repertoire.
I learned how to make this from Charlotte Combe, an excellent teacher at the late lamented Jack Lirio Cooking School in San Francisco,
Charlotte Combe's Marvelous Marinated Prawns
1/4 cup good mustard
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1/2 cup truly excellent olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped shallots
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Bring a large, well-salted pot of water to a boil and drop in 2 lbs. prawns, still in the shell. When they turn pink, they're probably done. Do not overcook them; a tiny bit underdone is far preferable to even a little overdone.
Drain and, as soon as they're cool enough to handle, peel the prawns and then mix them with the marinade.
Refrigerate overnight. Drain very well before serving.
Sounds simple, right? Well it is. But people like to take shortcuts and said shortcuts will ruin this dish. Here are the shortcuts you MAY NOT TAKE:
*No pre-cooked prawns
*No semi-peeled raw prawns
*No cheap-o olive oil
*No dried parsley flakes
*No omitting the red pepper flakes
*No trying to get away with a less-than-overnight marinade
*NO FORGETTING TO DRAIN THE PRAWNS REALLY WELL BEFORE SERVING. They should not be sitting in a pool of marinade at serving time.
You are permitted one substitution: scallions sliced thin for the shallots. The rest of the instructions are to be considered commandments -- carved on stone tablets, broken only at the risk of infuriating the gods of gastronomy