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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Back to Routine: Fresh Local Produce - Breaded Tiger Shrimps with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Serves 4-6 appetiser portions

An exquisite Appetiser for a seafood menu and an excellent nibble with drinks

Have you been resting over the holidays?
Is there anything better than some time off? I have had a wonderful 2 weeks of R&R and loved every minute of it. It was much needed after a bustling 2012 and in anticipation of what seems to be a very busy year from the start. As you may already know, I have recently started working on publishing my first cookbook, and what seemed to be a very small job at first, turned out to be the most time consuming activity! And I don't say this lightly, I mean I write recipes almost on daily basis. But when it comes to writing a book's worth of recipes all at once, the repetitions and the ingredients, kind of get tough! lol The kids have just got back to school, so today is my first day back at work, and looking at the piles of recipes in front of me, makes me super excited and overly anxious if it will all be finished in time lol

Because time is a precious comodity these days, and in true Dima fashion, looking at the piling work, the first thing that occurs to me is: I have to share with you this amazing Breaded Shrimp recipe, which I have included in my menu on Thursday for my Grandma who is visiting us from Amman. Now I know everyone cooks breaded shrimp! But I also know that most usually go for the store-bought bread crumbs. However, if you make your own bread crumbs, you will see that the flavours are way better than those boring bought ones. Also making your own bread crumbs allows you to introduce variations to the flavour. Different types of breads will offer different flavours, which will enrich the overall experience making your breaded shrimps even more special.
Tiger Shrimps

On the same note, different types of shrimps offer a completely different experience. The tiger shrimps are not only bigger in size, but they are also richer in flavour, and are heartier and more meaty than the regular or tiny shrimps. This makes them way more satisfying to eat than other types of shrimp. In terms of texture - and flavour - tiger prawns are a breed in between shrimps and crayfish. They are excellent grilled, BBQ'd or even fried. These prawns grow naturally in this region and are locally available fresh everywhere. So make sure to include them in your home-cooking more often.

These breaded shrimps can really benefit from a squeeze of lemon. Not only will the acidity of the lemon cut through the fat from the frying, but it will bring out the flavours of the shrimps and seriously compliment them. You can also serve them with a side of Taratoor sauce (tahina and lemon) for an authentic Levantine experience, or with a thousand island sauce. I have gone for a spicy tomato sauce, which I find to make this appetiser all the more heavenly! The spiciness of the chili in the sauce, together with the silkiness of pureed tomatoes with a beurre monte against the crunch of the breaded shrimp... makes the whole experience completely addictive! Very simple food that is absolutely marvellous in experience!

So let's get back to routine....
here is how it's made

Breaded Tiger Shrimps with A Spicy Tomato Sauce
Allow 2-3 shrimps per person for an appetiser portion

You Need
12 Tiger Shrimps, skin removed and tail kept in tact, then deveined
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups plain flour
2 turns of the mill, black pepper
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
3 tbsp water
Vegetable oil for frying

For Home-made Herbed Bread Crumbs
Any bread will work, I have used 1/2 baguette and 1/2 rye bread loaf bread for this recipe.
2 tsp powdered garlic
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried lemon thyme
1 tsp salt

For Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 Kg ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and pureed with 2 tsp sugar
2 green chilies finely chopped
a pinch of red chilie flakes (optional for extra spicy)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fish broth
75g butter, cubed (keep refrigerated until ready to use)
1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish

Start by making the home-made herbed bread crumbs mix.
Tip It is best to slightly dry the bread before using to make bread crumbs. You can simply toast them slightly in the oven before use.

Place the toasted bread along with garlic powder, thyme and oregano as well as seasoning in a food processor and process until mixture resembles crumbs. Do not over process.

Clean the shrimps and devein them, pat them dry and place them on a plate. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside.

Prepare the dippers: In a shallow bowl, place the eggs and water and beat together just to combine. In another shallow bowl place the flour, black pepper and salt. Finally in a third shallow bowl, place the home-made herbed bread crumbs mix.

Dip the shrimps in the flour to coat all sides, except the tails, then dip in the egg mixture to completely coat. Then dip into the bread crumb mix to cover. (I usually double coat with the egg and bread crumbs for a thicker coat of crumbs, but that is optional). Your shrimps are now ready to fry.

When ready to fry, heat enough vegetable oil to deep fry the shrimps. Fry them in small batches until golden (about 4-6 minutes depending the size). Do not fry too long or the shrimps will be overcooked. The finished shrimps must still have a crunch to them when done.

Tip If you are entertaining, you can prepare the shrinps ahead. After being coated, loosely cover and refrigerate until ready to fry and serve.

Make the Spicy tomato sauce. Saute the green chilies, red chili flakes (if using), and garlic in the olive oil. Allow the garlic to brown slightly. Once browned, add the tomato puree and mix to combine. Sprinkle sat and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the fish broth. Mix all to combine and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the mixture reduces and thickens slightly, occasionally stirring. When the tomato sauce is slightly reduced, add the cold butter, 1 cube at a time, until completely melted and incorporated. Repeat, until all butter had been added and incorporated. Remove from the heat, pour onto a serving bowl, and sprinkle with chopped coriander. Serve hot with the fried shrimps.

Simple goodness, huge appetites and pleasure in massive proportions; the makings of a memorable eating experiences. The goodness of fresh produce is unmatched, there is nothing we can do better than what nature has to offer. Fresh local produce is always the best tasting food, and tiger shrimps are such marvelous fresh local produce. Try to cook these more often, you are going to love them.

Speaking of Fresh Local Produce, stay tuned for my upcoming post on Fresh Local Italian Cheeses!!! Yup, you heard right! It is Italian, it is Fresh and it is Local!! Find out about delicious local Italian cheeses, my trip to their production unit accompanied by who other than the amazing Georgio Locatelli!! Drop by again soon for some Italian excitement and some succulent Italian Recipes ;)

Hope you have enjoyed this post, I look forward to hearing from you, especially when you try this recipe, come back and tell me what you think :)

To me "Bad manners at the table is not to be thankful to the person who cooked the meal"  - Georgio Locatelli