logoEat - Drink - Protest

A culture blog by Lauren Girardin, a San Francisco-based city girl who eats out and kicks about.

February 19, 2006

Mojito'd Shrimp

What could be better than a mojito? A pitcher of mojitos, of course. Sipped while rocking gently in a hammock under a cloudless blue sky with hummingbirds and butterflies flitting about in the warm air...whoops, I got lost in a sunny day fantasy. Even if you've never made a mojito, this dish is a cinch. My marine biologist friend Crissy and the Monterey Bay Aquarium will both tell you that shrimp farming and catching can be an environmental crap-shoot; look up which shrimps are ok to buy and consume here. If shrimp freak you out, you can use the sauce on chicken, fish or firm Chinese-style tofu.

3 to 4 servings

For the shrimp

1 T butter
1 lb. uncooked shrimp

For the Mint Sauce

3 T butter (or mix of butter + oil)
4 big ol' cloves garlic
1 jalapeño
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 bunch green onions a.k.a. scallions (usually 4-6 onions, depending on size)
1/4 cup rum (white preferred, but any non-spiced will do)
2 limes
1 T white sugar
salt & pepper to taste

For the shrimp

If you've gone the money-mindful DIY route, shell and devein your shrimp. If pre-prepped frozen shrimp await, and you're the plan-ahead type, thaw them by putting them in the fridge the night before. More likely, if you're only now thinking "mmm...Mojito Shrimp," place your frozen buddies in a bowl and cover them with cold water. ETT (Estimated Thaw Time), 30 minutes. In the meantime, get your mixology going and make a mojito. Drink the mojito. Love the mojito.
Prep: Drain shrimp, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Get your butter at the ready and heat a large frying pan (nonstick is easier, but big bad DuPont went and made it unsafe) over high heat.
Cook: Melt the 1 T butter in the pan, make sure it coats the pan bottom. Add the shrimp to the pan in one layer (do multiple batches if you have a little, wimpy pan). Once shrimp are laid out don't move them. They'll brown if you leave them be. Brown=flavor. Black=you indulged in too many mojitos. Turn shrimp over after 2 minutes. After 1 minute more, remove shrimp from pan to a plate to wait. They'll be just firm and pink with a hint of brown. Don't wash the pan, but remove it from heat.

Now for the sauce

...Jalepeño Prep: A painful lesson is the one you learn when you chop jalepeños with bare hands. My fingertips sizzled for days. Save yourself the aloe and wear gloves or put your hands in clean plastic bags to hold the jalepeno. Do not challenge the jalepeño, you will lose. Also, cut it on a plate, not your absorbent cutting board. Chop it like an itty bitty green pepper: Slice off stem end. Cut in half the long way. Trim off a little of the green flesh and lick it. (Does it burn a lot? Unless your tongue is a Viking, don't use it all. Does it burn a little? Use the whole thing. Does it burn not at all? Dang, you got taken!) If you lucked out with a particularly spicy pepper, best to remove the center seed pod and seeds, and maybe also the whiter "veins" - this is where most of the oompf lives...

...Lime Prep:
Wash well then zest limes. WTF, you ask? You need a microplane grater, a citrus zester or a very light touch with a vegetable peeler. You want only the green part of the lime skin, not the white underbelly, called the "pith," which is bitter. The zest should look like fluffy Easter grass, so mince it up nice. Then cut limes in half and squeeze juice into a bowl; behold the unrivaled yellow juicer....

Prep: Mince garlic. Pick mint leaves off stems and finely mince leaves. Slice green onions into thin circles (use the white AND green parts unless limp, dry, slimy or otherwise sad).
Cook: Put pan back on medium heat. Let it get hot again. Melt 3 T butter in pan. Add garlic, jalepeños and cook for 15 secs. Dump in mint, green onions, zest, rum (watch for fire!), half the lime juice, sugar and stir and bubble for 1 quick min. Taste and add salt and pepper as you like and adjust anything else that needs adjusting (more butter for the brave and the remaining lime juice for the sassy). Return shrimp to pan and toss with sauce until coated and warmed. Remove from pan immediately or they'll overcook.
Over brown or white rice is the way to go. A small undressed wilted spinach salad with avocado slices cuts the lime nicely and gives the whole plate a beguiling green guise.