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!