Confession time. A decade or more ago, I had a classic shrimp cocktail at a function in Federation Park during my Toute Bagai days. It was simply done, cooked with a hint of lime and paired well with the slightly sweet tomato dipping sauce and horseradish. But I didn’t love it enough to want to make it myself.
You see, shrimp was one of those things that I used to leave alone on purpose because it needed some extra care when preparing it, and I would often worry that I wouldn’t have cooked it enough and consequently make myself ill, which never happened, of course. My late mother and father were the ones who loved shrimp the most. Curried shrimp and Chinese style pepper shrimp were Selwyn’s favourites (forgive me, but I always called my father by his first name). My mother, however, preferred Granny’s treatments, because for her to eat shrimp, it couldn’t look like itself. So my Granny always minced it for her.
Because of that fuss, I tended to only eat it already prepared and my early shrimp purchases were always of the precooked variety. I’d simply heat and serve them with a variety of dips, which soon became, well… predictable. Fast forward to nowadays and my shrimp love knows no bounds. I boil, roast, bake and steam them (and then some). So, for our mother daughter day recently, I decided to do an easy treatment of steamed shrimp to go with the big pot of spaghetti and tomato sauce I was bubbling while waiting for my chicken meatballs to bake in the oven…
A little less than a pound of shrimp were thawed. Then I peeled off the outer shells, leaving the tails on.
Next step was to butterfly them by taking my knife and splitting their backs open. Sometimes when you do this you’ll see a little black vein; always remove it, okay?
All cleaned and ready for seasoning, which consisted of lime juice, a pinch of salt, some Chinese Five Spice Powder, ginger powder, Angostura bitters and some fresh chopped parsley. (You’ll see how it looks seasoned in the other pic.)
I poured about an inch or so of water into my pot and mixed in two crumbled maggi vegetable cubes and two cloves of garlic. Then I set my steamer in there. The seasoned shrimp went in when the water began boiling.
Closed the pot tightly and let it go for about 8 to 10 minutes.
The shrimp are done! (Wish you could have smelled this.)
To serve them up, my daughter ladled up her sauce on the spaghetti and let me arrange them how I pleased… after scarfing down a few beforehand, hahahaa!
The finished dish! And here’s the recipe:
1 pound raw shrimp (remove the shells, de-vein and butterfly them)
Juice of half a lime
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
Couple shakes of ginger powder
For the steaming water:
2 vegetable Maggi Cubes
2 garlic cloves
- Prepare your saucepan by pouring in 1½ inches water. Crumble the two Maggi cubes into it and cut the garlic cloves in half and add them to the water.
- Place to boil on a medium high flame.
- Prepare the peeled and deveined shrimp by seasoning it with the lime, salt, parsley, Five Spice powder, ginger powder and Angostura bitters; toss well to combine the seasonings and leave to marinate for a few minutes.
- Set up your steamer basket on its legs and place it into the pot, ensuring that the cover fits tightly. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can use a colander as a substitute.)
- Next, arrange the seasoned shrimp in your steamer basket or colander.
- Cover tightly and steam the shrimp for 8 to 10 minutes.
- When done, the shrimp tails should be a beautiful bright orange colour and the flesh nice, white and firm.
Remove from the pan and place the shrimp on to your serving dish. Use as an appetizer or enjoy them as a main dish.
And that was how it all went down. We ate. We laughed… ate some more... It was a wonderful lime and we’ve made plans to repeat it again very soon.
In the meantime, I will be working on more dishes to share with you, so keep checking in, alright? Till next time, take care, and don’t forget to mind de pot! :-)