I am not normally a squeamish person, but I do have my moments and this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe presented me with a challenge. Mind you this was in no way Dorie’s fault, but rather a learning experience of my own making.
Let me start at the beginning. This week’s recipe is Creamy Cheesy Garlicky Rice with Spinach (talk about a mouth-full) and after some internal indecision over how to serve this, I decided to call it french risotto and serve it as a main dish instead of a side. And to spruce it up a bit, top it with some sauteed shrimp.
So off I set to Frankfurt’s large indoor market, and straight to my favorite fish stall, were the fish is always incredibly fresh and the fish mongers are so nice and helpful. Upon hearing that I wanted shrimp, the fish guy excitedly told me that they currently had some very fresh ones in stock and proceeded to start piling them on the scale for me. It was at this point, specifically when one of the shrimp jumped out of the scale in an escape attempt, that I realized exactly how fresh these shrimp were… they were still alive and quite literally kicking! The fish guy laughed, reminded me to keep a cover on the pan when I cooked them, and handed me over a bag of the freshest shrimp I have ever purchased. Eeek!
Now any of you who live on the coast or have even ever cooked lobster are probably rolling your eyes at me, and frankly I don’t blame you. Really, why is this any different from any of the times I’ve ever cooked mussels? And since I think there is a lobster recipe lurking somewhere in Dorie’s book, maybe this is good practice. Well anyway, this was the reasoning I was using on myself all the way home.
Once home I called my husband at work for moral support… and as I listened to his laughter coming through the phone lines I realized that I had probably called the wrong person. The germans are definitely not as squeamish as americans about such stuff. All you have to do is walk into any real butcher shop anywhere in the country if you want to test that theory. So I was on my own.
In the end I reasoned that it was probably less cruel to just get it over with quickly instead of letting them slowly suffocate, so into the pot they went and down came the lid. The fish guy wasn’t kidding at all, the pot sounded like it was being used to pop popcorn for the first few seconds and it was at this point that I realized the big difference between cooking live shrimp versus mussels, mussels don’t fight back. Yes, call me a wimp, roll your eyes, but I actually felt bad.
Now back to Dorie’s rice. Her recipe calls for aborio rice to be cooked like traditional rice instead of risotto (meaning no stirring) and then mixed with cheese & spinach. Since I’ve never cooked arborio rice this way and had no idea how long it would take, I may have overcooked it a bit, but after all the cheese and other add-ins were thrown into the pot, it tasted creamy and delicious anyway.
And how were the shrimp you might ask? They were the best shrimp I have ever eaten!
What a lovely presentation! LOL at your shrimp story though!
Oh nooo! I would have had a hard time with those shrimp, too! I don’t even know what to do with them when they still have their heads, much less when they’ve still got fight. Good job! Very funny post. 🙂
Yeah, I had to get over the head thing fairly early on since here they often come fully intact when ordered in a restaurant. But tangling with live ones was definitely a first for me.
Oh, the vision of live shrimps popping like popcorn in the hot pot had me both cringing and chuckling! Now that is FRESH. Well, the end result is what mattered, your rice looked stunning topped with those feisty shrimps.
Great attempt! And, I love that you added shrimp. So delicious!
Good idea to add shrimp, but…I could not have beheaded the shrimp and I could not have eaten them. You are way braver than I am. Your meal looks really good.
You are so funny…I like your sense of humor . Your shrimps topping to the cheesy rice is clever 🙂 well done!
Oooh, yummy! I have to remember the shrimp for next time. I bet yours was fabulous that way! 🙂
I loved your shrimp story! I have never cooked live shrimp before, but I’m sure they were delicious. They look beautiful sitting on top of your rice.
The shrimp looks very tasty with the rice. Very nice!!
The shrimps make this rice dish into something very special! How brave you are to tangle with live shrimp but I would say it was worth it;-)
Why thank you, but if you had heard my girlish shriek as one tried to escape on me you might not be calling me brave. It was definitely an adventure!
LOL, I would be a little freaked out too! Although, they make me jealous of your dinner…. !!! 🙂
Your shrimp story had me laughing, Rosa, with you, not at you. I’ve never seen LIVE shrimp for sale before. I think it’s sort of exciting 🙂 Shrimp on top of this rice sounds delicious!
Nice job, shirmp killer. lol. Your post was funny. It reminded of a Woody Allen movie where he’s trying to cook lobster. Glad you were victorious.
I know, that’s exactly how I felt, like a shrimp killer. And I think that we have a lobster recipe yet to tackle in Dorie’s book, no idea how I’m going to get through that one!
I’ve cooked lobster, mussels and crawfish, but it’s never even occurred to me to cook live shrimp. Good for you! Everything looks amazing!
It never occurred to me before either, probably because they were never available. Who knows.
I have never fixed shrimp that fresh either and I would have felt bad as well, but I imagine they were very tasty!
I laughed and cringed at the same reading your post!
I often find myself in similar situations wondering how did I get myself into this!
But I bet they tasted amazing! They sure look good!
I get it – I still have to leave the room when we put lobsters into a pot to boil (and I started fishing and cleaning fish at a very young age). I am glad the end result was worth it.
Have a great weekend!
Oh, I’d definitely be squeamish as well! Especially with those popcorn sound effects! BUT, the shrimp do look fabulous on top of your rice….great idea 🙂
I hate to clean shrimp, let alone trying to kill them! Your post had me literally laughing out loud! I served my rice with shrimp on the side, but they were totally dead when I cooked them 🙂
oh I was thinking the same thing – mussels don’t wiggle. Glad you went ahead with it, there is nothing quite so good as shrimp that have been just caught, cooked and peeled. And shirimp and rice together in a dish?, in the South they call that heaven.
I bet they tasted wonderful, but I’m with you – I feel terrible about it. It’s the method, I think.
I really enjoyed your post – especially about cooking life prawns. I think I would have felt exactly the same way…somehow prawns are more animal like than mussels. Although I am not squeemish when it comes markets or butcher shops and like seeing where my food comes from, I would still have a hard time killing them! 😦 Good work though and I’m sure they would have tasted fantastic!
I would have felt the same way as you did about the shrimp…I would much rather buy them frozen! When I buy lobster I always have the shop steam them for me. I just feel so much better knowing I’m not the executioner. Your dish looks delicious and I love the way you served it with the shrimp!