Looking over the columns I've contributed to Wednesday Journal over the past years, I was surprised at the scant attention I've given to one of my favorite foods: that ever so delectable and versatile category of shellfish known as shrimp. This (unintentional) neglect became even more surprising when I stumbled upon the little known fact that shrimp stands second only to tuna as America's favorite seafood.
Shrimp has a dense, white meaty texture and fresh mild flavor that's liked by almost everyone. It's extremely adaptable and combines well when cooked with numerous other ingredients. Shrimp is also well suited to all methods of cooking, especially boiling (as in shrimp cocktail) and deep frying (as in French-fried shrimp).
French-fried shrimp are indeed a favorite with my entire family, especially my 10-year-old son, who, when asked what it was that he liked so much about them, quickly replied, "They're fried!"
Readers of this column know that in recent years I've grown increasingly troubled over the demise of various types of foods and numerous food establishments that were once common in our area. "Real" Bohemian restaurants, "good" Italian beef stands, and Bohemian butcher shops are only a few examples that come to mind. And, as I now realize, quality shrimp houses.
But all is not lost. I've devised a recipe for French-fried shrimp that's easily done at home and just as good as the best shrimp houses used to be. Here's how to do it, along with three great sauces.
How could you go wrong? They're fried!
¼ cup salt
1 quart water
2 pounds medium shrimp in the shells
2 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten with ¼ cup cold water
2 cups breadcrumbs
Crisco for deep frying
Dissolve the ¼ cup salt in the water to make a brine.
Peel the shrimp.
Make a shallow cut lengthwise down the back of the shrimp.
Add the shrimp to the brine and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
Rinse the shrimp well under cold running water and wash out the dark vein.
Heat Crisco (2 to 3 inches deep) to 350 degrees in a fryer or Dutch oven.
Dredge the shrimp in the flour.
Shake off the excess flour and dip the shrimp into the beaten eggs.
Coat the shrimp in the breadcrumbs.
Fry 6 to 8 shrimp at a time until golden brown.
Serve with one (or all) of these three tasty sauces.
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (or more to taste)
Blend all ingredients well
1 small russet potato, peeled
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon chopped capers
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups mayonnaise (homemade is best)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Boil the potato, drain, cool and mash in a mixing bowl.
Add the onion, dill pickle and chopped parsley.
Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice.
Blend all ingredients well.
French cocktail sauce
2 cups good (thick) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon (no more) brandy
Blend all ingredients