I believe I have had more poorly cooked shrimp than any other food. The most common mistake people make in cooking shrimp is to overcook it, and I dare say that there are probably people who have never eaten a properly cooked shrimp in their lives.
Here's a mnemonic device to help you remember how to cook shrimp: C stands for cooked; O stands for overcooked. In other words, if you have cooked the shrimp until it tightens up and curls so much that the two ends meet to form a circle, you have overcooked the shrimp. If the shrimp is pink and firm to the touch and still in the shape of a C, it is properly cooked. Now that we have the overcooking problem out of the way, let's talk a little about buying and brining shrimp.
Unless you literally live within a couple of miles of a fleet of shrimp boats, the shrimp in your market has almost definitely been frozen. Most of the "fresh" shrimp sold in supermarkets is nothing but frozen shrimp that has been thawed. When in doubt, ask the seafood clerk - I doubt they'll lie about it. So your best bet is to buy frozen shrimp and thaw it (in the refrigerator or under cold running water, never at room temperature) just before you cook it. And be sure to check the status of various types of shrimp at Seafood Watch
to make sure you are making the most planet-friendly choices.
Brining shrimp isn't absolutely necessary, but it does help the shrimp stay moist and plump even if it is slightly overcooked. To brine up to about 2 pounds of shrimp, dissolve 1/4 cup kosher salt or 2 tablespoons table salt in 3 cups water. Combine with the shrimp in a bowl or plastic bag and let sit in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Of course, brining time is also a great time to add flavor, so toss in some Old Bay, garlic or other spices too!
Now that you know all my shrimp secrets, let's take advantage of them. This dish is elegant in both its flavor and its simplicity, and its appeal is further enhanced by the fact that the first ingredient is everyone's favorite oxymoron - "Jumbo Shrimp."Broiled Shrimp with Lemon ButterNutrition Facts
Serving Size about 5 oz
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 15.3g
Saturated Fat 9.7g
Total Carbohydrates 0.9g
Note: These numbers assume you eat ALL
1 1/2 to 2 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs coarsely crumbled hot pepper flakes
3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
Rinse the peeled and deveined shrimp.
Combine the pepper flakes, garlic, stock, and salt in an electric blender or food processor and process until the seasonings are pulverized.
Combine the marinade and the shrimp in a bowl, and toss to thoroughly cover the shrimp.
Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Cook the shrimp over charcoal or under the broiler, turning them over once, until they are pink and firm to the touch.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat stir in the lemon juice.
Prepare individual servings and serve the lemon wedges or lemon butter in small bowls on the side for dipping.
Serve at once.