I’ve always liked shrimp. Fresh would be great, but since I live in Minnesota, that just doesn’t happen. But with modern Individually Quick Frozen (or IQF) you’re likely not going to notice a difference. Even those “fresh” shrimp in the meat case likely are “fresh from frozen” if you look closer.
Until recently, I always bought the pre-cooked – figured they were easier to deal with you know? Just thaw under some running water, dip in cocktail sauce and instant meal. Sometimes I’d toss in a pan with a bit of olive oil and garlic, or douse in buffalo sauce, all good. But rinsing to thaw, and recooking of any kind just don’t do the shrimp justice. I know this now thanks to Alton Brown, the man behind Good Eats.
Cooking shrimp from raw (even thawed from frozen) is just too dang easy to not do so. Since I’ve been wanting to my my hand at some cooking related videos, I figured this was a good a place to start as any.
So to start out with, you need about a pound of shrimp. Shrimp are packaged/sold by a number that tells you about how many shrimp per pound, the smaller the number, the bigger the shrimp (and generally the higher the cost). Start out with about a pound, make sure they’re thawed. The shell on are better than not, they’ll add some flavor and help keep moisture in while cooking. And while you can do the broiling without the brine first, it can make a nice difference to take the extra step.
To make your brine boil 1 cup of water and dissolve in that 1/2 cup of kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar (I’ve often done this without the sugar for those concerned there). Once you dissolve the salt and sugar, add about 2 cups worth of ice cubes, you need to get the brine nice and cold. Shrimp can basically start cooking at room temp, so keep it cold. Once the brine is ready, get the shrimp soaking in it and do so for about 20-25 minutes tops. The brine should be cold enough that you can do so on the counter or you can stick it in your fridge.
Just after you get the shrimp ready, get your broiler ready. You are going to want to cook this on the rack closest to the broiler. Put your broiler pan under the heat while the broiler heats, heat in the pan will help play a part in the cooking of the shrimp. Set it to the highest temp, generally about 500 degrees or so.
Once the shrimp have had their little soak, pour them out in to a strainer and give a quick rinse with cold water to get any residual salt off them and dump in to a bowl lined with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Pat the shrimp dry, you want to get as much of the excess moisture as you can.
Dry out the bowl and put the shrimp back in there, and plan ahead and use a bowl that has a lid. You’ll see why in a moment.
Once they’re in the bowl, drizzle about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over them – use just basic olive oil, not extra virgin. EVOO has too low of a smoke point, and will burn more than cook under the heat of a broiler. The oil is not just to help your seasonings stick to the shrimp, but helps the heat really get a grip on the shrimp.
Speaking of seasonings, you can play around with them, but a combo I’m liking is 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder, and 1/2 teaspoon celery seed that’s been crushed or ground up a bit. Try other seasonings based on what you end up eating the shrimp with, but no more salt – there was plenty in the brine, and avoid peppers as they’ll tend to burn under the heat of the broiler.
The easiest way to coat all this is by dumping it over the shrimp, popping on a cover and giving the shrimp a good shaking. Once you do that, get your hot pad, pull out your broiler pan and dump the shrimp right on. Quickly spread them out in a single layer with tongs and slide back under the heat for about 2 minutes. Maybe a bit longer if you are using larger shrimp…. but likely no more than 2-1/2 to 3 minutes.
Once the time is up, get the pan out and move the shrimp from the pan to another dish, otherwise the heat of the pan will keep cooking the shrimp past where you want them to be.
Now the fun part – eating!
You can let them cool and enjoy as a shrimp cocktail, serve like they are for some peel and eat action with a bit of drawn butter maybe, or peel them and cut to toss in some sauce or….? Well, you decide. Once I’ve had my dinner, I peel the remaining shrimp and keep them in the fridge for a up to a couple days.. well, they may keep longer, but they never last longer than a day or two. I actually almost like them better the next day.
So there you have it, hope the video proves helpful… and that once you see how easy it is to cook up shrimp you’ll make them a regular part of your menu.
Oh, and sorry about the watermarks on the video, I’m trying out different software till I can find one I want to invest in. If I can later, I’ll repost it once I’ve gotten rid of it.