Sunday, August 9, 2009

If my wife ever divorced me, it would be in part because I no longer make this Shrimp with Feta Cheese

"You know what I really miss? Shrimp with Feta."

Amy (my wife) married an omnivore in 1986. She knew that I had issues (of the flirtatious variety) with kashruth, but thought that we would probably never have to deal with them. Though from a Reformed background, her palate was originally much more restricted than mine. I think I once might even have told her that I couldn't imagine a woman who wouldn't eat squid getting to first base with me. (What I meant was to the huppah, but that sounds too weird.) She reassured me on a trip to Italy before we got married when she ate and liked the grilled squid offered to her by someone sitting at the next table from us (who was there for a reunion of surviving lawyers from the Nuremberg prosecution) at a trattoria near the Spanish steps in Rome. She even ordered some on her own later in the trip.

As I moved toward greater observance (don't worry, there will be more than one extensive blogpost on kashruth at some point) and gave up eating forbidden animals, she showed exceptional forbearance. Nevertheless, she sometimes sighs "I really miss the shrimp with feta." I have tried a similar preparation with a variety of kosher fish, but none is all that good -- if anyone has any ideas, I am eager to hear them, but for now, for those of you who eat shrimp, here is a recipe you may enjoy:

Shrimp with Feta Cheese (serves 2 -- easy to multiply)
  1. Shell about 3/4 pound medium/large (but not humongous) shrimp, leaving on the tail and the last segment of the shell -- this helps prevent it from curling up to much. Salt and pepper lightly and set aside. Devein if you want, but I rarely used to, even though my cousin Peter, a biologist, said that it was really crazy not to. I found that deveined shrimp always had this raggedy look.
  2. Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add 1/2 cup finely sliced scallion whites, salt lightly, and saute on medium heat until soft. Do not brown.
  3. Add a chopped clove or two of garlic if you want and saute another minute.
  4. Wash a small bunch of dill and flat-leaf Italian parsley well -- the sand would ruin the dish. Chop finely, and set about 1/4 to 1/2 aside. Add the rest of the herbs to the skill and saute on low for another minute.
  5. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine (following Julia Child, I tend to use vermouth here unless something appropriate is open) and a splash of cognac if you want, turn up the heat and boil down until evaporated.
  6. Add a 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes. If I was making the dish now, I would use the chopped Italian cherry tomatoes by Valle (it even has a hecksher!) but this wasn't available when I was cooking the dish. Cook on medium-high heat stirring very occasionally until the sauce is done and the oil is starting to separate. Depending on the size of the skillet, this should take between 5 and 15 minutes. Preheat the broiler.
  7. You can make the sauce in advance, and just reheat it before you add the shrimp.
  8. Add the shrimp, stir around, and cook for a minute or two until mostly pink but not quite completely cooked. There is nothing worse than overcooked shrimp. They cook very quickly and will continue to cook in retained heat in the skillet, as well as in the oven.
  9. Transfer the shrimp to a broiler-safe shallow baking dish.
  10. Top with about 2 to 4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese (the exact amount is up to you), and broil until the cheese begins to melt and brown, about 5 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle the top with a good amount of the reserved chopped parsley and dill.
  12. Serve at once with rice.

Blogging seems not to be much about modesty, but modesty aside, this is by far the best version of this dish that I have had. It is herby, not too tomatoey, and the shrimp are juicy and overcooked. Although the recipe is for 2, it is very easy to multiply for 4 or more. I hope those of who eat shrimp will make it and think of Amy when you do. Maybe you'll even invite her over for dinner.

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