There are some foods which were always considered somewhat of a treat when we were growing up. Shrimp was one of those foods. Maybe because it was often a little pricier than our usual fare, or maybe because our parents tried to reserve seafood dishes for periods of lent, when they would be appreciated even more. Whatever the reason, when shrimp made its way to the table, it was a good thing.
The great thing about cooking with seafood like shrimp, is how easily a delicious meal can come together; shrimp literally cooks in minutes. It’s also incredibly versatile and is delicious grilled, fried, steamed, boiled and baked. There is no shortage of ways to prepare shrimp (did you see what we did there?) 🙂
There are many ways to purchase shrimp: fresh, frozen, pre-cooked, shelled, and so on. Depending upon where we are purchasing our shrimp, and what time of year it is, we will either choose fresh or frozen varieties. The best advice we can give you, is the advice our parents gave us. Make friends with your local fishmonger and ask him or her to direct you to the best quality ingredients available.
Whether we buy our shrimp fresh or frozen however, we usually always purchase it with the shell on, another piece of advice passed on by our folks. This is because shell-on shrimp offers versatility; sometimes you want to cook with the shell on, and other times, like here, with the shell off. If you de-shell your shrimp yourself be sure to set the shells aside. Shrimp shells make a great base for a seafood stock.
You also want to be sure that your shrimp are de-veined. Often they already are when you purchase them, but it is relatively easy to do yourself if you must. Shrimp have a black vein running alongside their outer edge. Use a sharp knife to carefully make a slit alongside the outer part of the shrimp and then scrape or peel the vein away. It is not dangerous to eat, so if you leave it there, or don’t remove it completely, don’t be too worried. It does have a weird taste however so it is worth the effort to remove as much as you can.
Shrimp cooks pretty quickly, and it is easy to know when your shrimp is ready because it changes colour! Don’t you wish all food did that! Your shrimp will go from a grey and translucent white raw state to a pink and white cooked state. This happens pretty quickly, so keep an eye on your shrimp as they are cooking. Overcooked shrimp tends to taste a little rubbery. If you are not sure if your shrimp is done, select one to cut in half. It should have changed colour throughout.
This recipe is great as a side, or a complete meal. It is wonderful served warm, but also at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Mia Kouppa: Orzo with shrimp
- 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) of orzo (uncooked)
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) plus 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh shrimp (20 oz, or 575g), shelled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) olive oil
- 4 spring onions, sliced (white and green part)
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped red onion
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped fresh dill
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 tablespoon (22 ml) capers
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt, and pepper to taste
- Fill a pot with water, add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of olive oil, and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, and cook as directed, about 8-9 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining (1/3 cup or 80 ml) olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, mix well and set aside.
- When the orzo is cooked, drain it and place the orzo in a large bowl. Pour the oil and lemon mixture over the orzo while it is still hot, and mix carefully. Set aside.
- Place the shrimp in a frying pan, and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan. Fry the shrimp until they are pink and fully cooked through. This should only take a few minutes per side.
- Add the cooked shrimp to the bowl with the orzo. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir everything until it is well combined.
- Let your orzo and shrimp salad sit for at least half an hour for the flavours to blend together nicely. You can also refrigerate and enjoy it at a later time, taking it out of the fridge, for at least 30 minutes to reach room temperature. Enjoy.