Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day… all in one week. Boy, did those two events sneak up on me.
Feeling like “Last Minute Karista”, I quickly planned my week’s menu and raced off to the market yesterday morning before the Andouille sausage could sell out.
I know you’re wondering how Andouille sausage could ever possibly sell out here in Seattle. I thought the same thing last year around Fat Tuesday. I’m sure I dug through every type of sausage in my market’s meat cooler before asking where they hid the Andouille. That’s when Mr. Meat Cutter told me my favorite brand of Andouille sausage was sold out. God help the Gumbo! It just wasn’t the same without my favorite Andouille.
As I walked into the market, I grabbed my food cart and power walked to the back of the store. I opened the cooler door and there sat the last two packages of my beloved sausage. Phew! Fat Tuesday will be a success. The last ingredient to purchase was crawfish. Of course, there would surely be lots of crawfish because who in Seattle eats crawfish. Right?
Behold devastation. My fish market was completely cleaned out of crawfish.
I can only imagine the look on my face as the two young fishmongers were wide-eyed and speechless. I’m sure they were both wondering if I was going to have a meltdown in the fish market. They tried desperately to make me feel better and promised more crawfish tails would be arriving soon. In the meantime one of the fishmongers asked me if I could substitute. Substitute? Normally I’m all over subbing, but this is Fat Tuesday dinner we’re talking about. One. Must. Have. Crawfish.
I quickly re-gained my composure and thanked the courteous young fishmonger for his help. Feeling badly that I could hardly speak because they sold out of crawfish, I purchased fresh Gulf shrimp and my favorite Ahi Poke.
Home with my purchases, I was now stocked with fresh produce, Andouille sausage, Ahi Poke and fresh Gulf shrimp. So what to do with that beautiful fresh shrimp?
I remembered a Moroccan shrimp recipe from Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Cuisine cookbook I wanted to try, and hoped I had all the ingredients on hand. I didn’t. But I’m an expert at subbing (unless it’s crawfish) and winged the recipe a bit.
Score! This is now one of Ranger Craig’s favorite shrimp dishes, besides the shrimp taco’s of course. A rich and spicy sauce glazing the flavorful Gulf shrimp and served on polenta cakes .
A delicious dish that is filled with enticing and fragrant flavors. The perfect recipe for a spicy Valentine dinner.
Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes
This dish is also great as an appetizer. Serve one shrimp on a mini polenta cake, trimmed with a small cookie cutter.
1 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Harissa (a hot or spicy chili paste used in North African cooking. It can be purchased at most markets, Whole Foods or a Gourmet specialty store, or you can make it at home. If you don’t have Harissa or don’t have time to make it substitute with Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste, a splash of Sriracha or pinch of red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper.
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
Quick cook polenta
Prepare the quick cook polenta to package directions. I like to add a little grated parmesan to my polenta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the polenta into a baking dish and let it cool. Once cooled, cut out rounds of polenta with a 3″ cookie cutter. Heat a little oil in a saute pan and pan sear each side of the polenta cakes, making them a little crispy on the outside. Place on a paper towel to cool.
Mix together the paprika, cumin, ground ginger and minced garlic and Harissa with a splash of olive oil. Set aside. Mix the water with the tomato sauce.
In large skillet over medium high heat add the clarified butter. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and when the butter is hot, pan sear the shrimp on both sides. You may need to do this in batches.
When each side is nicely golden brown and the shrimp are opaque, take the skillet off the heat and toss with the garlic and spice mixture. Mix in the tomato sauce and then place the skillet back over medium heat just for a few minutes to let the sauce coat the shrimp.
Place a polenta round on a plate and top with shrimp. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve immediately.
For family style service, pour the quick cook polenta onto a platter. No need to cut out and pan sear. When the shrimp is done, ladle the shrimp and sauce over the polenta and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.
- Prawns on Crisp Polenta Rounds and Sun-Dried Tomato Dipping Sauce (lemonsandanchovies.com)
- How to Make Creamy Stovetop Polenta – Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- True grits > Henri makes shrimp and grits, Southern style. (newsreview.com)
- Fat Tuesday: The key to a proper feast is decadence (triblive.com)