Shrimp

At long last, Paleo Takeout has arrived! To celebrate, I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes from the book. This “Bam Bam Shrimp” recipe is inspired by a certain shrimp dish found in a couple different chain restaurants across the United States.

One cool fact – when coming up with a title for the recipe (one that reminded readers of the original dish without infringing any copyright!), I was stumped. So I posed the question to the Paleo Takeout Facebook group and after a lot of great feedback, we decided on the term “Bam Bam Shrimp”, since it got the point across and had a bit of a Paleolithic (in other words, Flinstones) feel to it. Other frontrunners included Bazinga Shrimp, Dynamite Shrimp, and Whiz Bang Shrimp.

I want to take a second and thank everyone for your continued support, enthusiasm, and readership. Paleo Takeout began as a whim, then an eBook, and now it’s finally here as a full-scale print book, and easily the most challenging (and rewarding) project I’ve ever undertaken. The book is now available online and in stores, wherever books are sold. If you’re an international reader, please note that Book Depository ships worldwide for free.

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Last month I had the opportunity to visit Avery Island, Louisiana, the home of Tabasco. Each year the company selects a group of bloggers to visit their island (which is actually a salt dome surrounded by bayou). In turn, the bloggers are asked to write about their experience and create some recipes using Tabasco sauces. Since I was probably going to make some recipes using Tabasco this year anyway, it was an easy decision to join the event.

I’ve always valued Tabasco sauces for their short ingredients list (the original red pepper sauce contains just three ingredients – peppers, vinegar, and salt), and their ability to add a complex flavor to any dish; I feel that acidity is a tragically underutilized dynamic in most kitchens, and Tabasco has acidity in spades. But until this trip I never realized how much care Tabasco puts into each bottle, which you’ll see in my pictures below the recipe. But first, the food.

It’s coming into flounder season here in Florida, and it is easy to find in my area right now. The fish are caught using a spear (called a “gig”), typically at night, much in the same way that frogs are traditionally caught. A favorite preparation for flounder is to simply pan-fry them in Cajun seasoning (often used interchangeably with the term “blackening seasoning”); since I was already making the seasoning from scratch, I figured this is also an opportunity to incorporate it into one of my other favorite dishes from this area, Étouffée.

Étouffée translates to “smothered” from French, which indicates that the main ingredient (often crawfish, but in this case, shrimp) is smothered in a thick sauce of broth and vegetables. Might as well add some bacon to it for good measure, because bacon.

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Having spent most of my 20s in Hawaii, we regularly made trips to Giovanni’s shrimp truck in Kahuku to enjoy their signature dish: garlic shrimp. The shrimp is pan-fried in an aromatic scampi sauce, and served with a cubic ton of garlic. I have regularly tackled this dish since moving to the mainland in 2008, but it wasn’t until this past year that I really figured out how to recreate the dish at home.

My process includes marinating and par-cooking the shrimp in butter, then reducing the marinating liquid and garlic until it’s crispy, and finally returning the shrimp to the pan to finish everything off. I have made a couple adjustments over the years that ended up making a big difference in the final product. In order to prevent the butter from burning, I used clarified butter (or ghee) which has a higher smoke point than butter (previously I used olive oil, which I don’t like using at high temperatures). Also, by using tail-on (or even shelled) shrimp, the marinating liquid better penetrates the shrimp, making for a more flavorful (and less messy) experience.

For clarification (no pun intended), there is a difference between clarified butter and ghee, although the two are often confused. Clarified butter is butter with its milk solids removed, generally scraped from the surface of the butter as it gently simmers. Ghee, on the other hand, is made when the milk solids are allowed to fall to the bottom of the butter and brown as the butter simmers. Ghee has a more toasted flavor than the more neutral clarified butter.

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Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew first developed in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Originally made by Italian fisherman who had settled in the region, it was crafted directly on fishing boats using rudimentary cooking tools before making its way into local restaurants and beyond. Much like the French Bouillabaisse or the Eastern European Brudet, Cioppino is made with a variety of seafood, depending on whatever is on hand. Also, apparently I’m obsessed with tomato-based seafood stews, because this is my third such recipe in the past year.

The origin of this dish’s name is the subject of some debate. The most likely answer is that it comes from the word ciuppin, which means “chopped” in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa, Italy’s largest seaport, from where many immigrants in the San Francisco area originated. The idea is that fishermen chopped up a bunch of fish for the stew. There’s also a seafood stew from Genoa called Ciuppin, so there’s that, too. But a more compelling origin is that the name comes from Italian-Americans asking their fellow fishermen to “chip in” some seafood for a communal feast, and their broken English formed the word we know today as Cioppino.

No matter its etymology, this is a quick and versatile dish to make for any weeknight or weekend, allowing you to maximize your flavors based on whatever seafood is on sale at your local market. For us, king crab was (somewhat) affordable the other day, so that’s what we used to spice up our dinner. Just stick with the underlying foundation of the recipe and you can’t go wrong.

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Kuy Teav is a Cambodian pork and seafood noodle soup, much like the Vietnamese Pho; in fact this dish is enjoyed in Vietnam, under the name Hu Tieu Nom Vang (“Phnom Penh Noodle Soup”). While I’m a huge fan of Pho (it’s in my cookbook), sometimes it’s a little too beefy for my tastes; Kuy Teav serves as an excellent break from the norm.

It’s believed that this dish originated among Chinese immigrants living in Cambodia, and later spread to the rest of the country. It’s also a popular breakfast meal. Like many Asian soups, there is no one way to prepare this dish. Feel free to experiment with all sorts of add-ins, including meat balls or any leftover meat you may have.

This dish sits firmly in the Perfect Health Diet spectrum of Paleo since it uses rice noodles, but feel free to use sweet potato noodles (or even zucchini noodles) instead. One of these days, I’ll help convince the Paleo world that rice is indeed Paleo, but until then, I’ll continue to use my favorite little hashtag: #teamwhiterice.

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Many years ago, pasta cooked with seafood was my solution when I wanted something that tasted great without spending much time in the kitchen. Pasta cooks quickly and is delicious; seafood cooks even more quickly and is even more delicious. It’s almost like cheating in the way that you can have a memorable meal in a manner of minutes.

While pasta is rarely on our dinner table these days, we still miss the convenience of a quick Italian-style dinner. So from time to time I’ll whip something up with zucchini noodles or rice-based pasta. When we’re looking for a special treat, we’ll use Cappello’s grain-free fettuccine, which is made using just five ingredients: almond flour, cage-free eggs, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Although this recipe in particular was made with Cappello’s pasta, directions for all three pasta types are provided below.

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Brudet is a fish stew from Croatia, similar to an Italian Brodetto or Greek Bourdeto. All three are based on the Venetian word brodeto (“broth”). The recipes for each dish are similar; in fact, if you ever find yourself traveling along the Adriatic coast and see a similarly-named dish on a restaurant menu, you can probably bet it’s going to be a delicious fish stew cooked in a tomato base.

While there is a lot of variation to this dish, I like the Croatian version because it is an easy and unassuming approach to making soup. Marinate some fish for a while, then throw everything together at the proper time; it’s a true one-pot dish. Traditionally this dish is made with a mixture of fishes, to include eel, rockling, or coral trout; since they’re hard to come by, I think any firm white fish should be okay. I used cod. Adding shrimp and mussels also gives the stew a more rich and satisfying flavor.

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It may sound funny, but “scampi” is actually the culinary name for Nephrops Norvegicus, commonly known as the Norway lobster or Dublin Bay prawn. In Europe (Britain and Italy especially) “scampi” refers to the tail meat of this small lobster. Here in the US the word “scampi” most often refers to a style of preparation involving butter, garlic, and white wine used mainly with shrimp. However, I’ve seen “chicken scampi” in several restaurant menus, which often incites a chuckle.

I love making this dish because it’s both easy and decadent; it’s not often you can make something so delicious in just 20 minutes using ingredients you probably mostly have at home already.

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Satay is a dish that originated out of Indonesia. It’s basically just marinated, skewered, grilled pieces of meat. It’s most commonly found with chicken or beef, but like Japanese yakitori, you can find all sorts of weird varieties as well if you look hard enough. This is my shrimp version.

The most critical ingredient for this dish is turmeric, which gives the meat its yellow coloring. It’s somewhat hard to find but you’ll only need to get a small container, because a little bit goes a looong way.

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Simply put, honey walnut shrimp (hé táo xiā) is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, and one of the best ways to eat shrimp. Period. This delicate and sweet dish is definitely worth the high price you’ll usually pay for it in most Chinese restaurants, but my make-at-home recipe is both inexpensive and easy to pull off.

I omitted this dish’s trademark candied walnuts because they’re chock-full of sugar, and the walnuts aren’t the same without the candy coating anyway. And honestly, I prefer the shrimp in its pure, unadulterated form.

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