This may be an effort to keep myself entertained but I’ve decided that I’ll blog as many interesting meals as I can while the girls are out. The NH kitchen tends to become a bit of a test kitchen when I am a bachelor so I’ll let you know how that goes.
Tonight’s dinner was shrimp grilled with English/British bacon. It’s essentially a cured pork belly, sliced like bacon, wrapped around shrimp and then grilled. Not bad, not bad at all. This type of bacon is “hammier” than what us Yankees are used to. No matter. We’ve taken everything else the Brits gave us and made it better.
Things got pretty yummy pretty fast on the fly last night. We were just home from a weekend in Vienna and needed to do a quick and tasty meal. We decided on Thai Basil with some frozen chicken and I got a hankerin’ for some Coconut Shrimp appetizer having just bought a couple of bags of panko in the Vienna Naschmarkt. With a quick call to the neighbor for 1/2 cup of coconut, the groundwork was laid. I took the ingredients below, dipped in flour, then egg, then coconut panko mixture and fried them in vegetable oil. There were happy faces all around the table.
There’s only one problem with this recipe. It’s a touch labor intensive with all of the dredging and dipping and frying and, since it is my wife’s favorite shrimp dish, I know I’m going to be making it a lot. Oh, well. At least the flavor is worth the labor. Here’s the recipe…
2 dozen raw shrimp – peeled (prettier with tails but not essential)
2 heaping Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup dried sweetened coconut
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt to taste
Dipping Sauce (I used bottled sweet and sour chili sauce)
It’s easy to get in a rut when dining in Spain. However, Spanish cuisine is incredibly varied when you decide to extend beyond the staples. Factor in that most of Spain is bordered by the sea and it increases your chances of finding something you had never heard of. On my last trip there, one such discovery was the tortilla de camarones. When my wife told me, according to her pre trip research, that the place in Sanlúcar in which we were seated was famous for them, I was skeptical. Shrimp in a tortilla? It sounded kind of low on the texture scale. Plus, I’m a tortilla purist and the thought of sticking anything other than the essentials (egg, potato, onion) in a tortilla is just a distraction. Luckily, a couple of tables down, the folks ordered an unidentified plate of something heaping and fried and it piqued my curiosity. I went to the counter at Casa Balbino and ordered a plate of the tortilla de camarones for two and another couple glasses of La Gitana. I waited and was greeted with this:
It’s not a tortilla in the classic sense but an incredibly airy, perfectly seasoned, fried nest of whole baby shrimp. The crunch of the batter mixed with the shell of the shrimp reminded me of softshell crab – without the unfortunate mush that sometimes accompanies the latter. It was incredible. The Manzanilla cut though the grease perfectly and I had no problem devouring the majority of the plate. My wife enjoyed it as well but is not quite as adventurous of an eater as I am especially when it comes to baby shellfish. Still, she said she loved it. (Maybe I just didn’t give her a chance to eat more!)
Spain is a big country and the amount of culinary diversity is immense. Tortilla de camarones is a standout, however. If you ever find yourself in a restaurant where it is served, order it – and don’t forget the manzanilla.