Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday: I live to benefit humanity.

Riffing off some pretty (albeit not-in-the-usual-way) brilliant stuff from Ryan Duns, SJ I have decided to, in order to better serve my fellow man, post fish & seafood recipes for Lent. Starting with today, Ash Wednesday.

I don't really swing in this direction on this here blog, but I am a serious, hardcore foodie. Tell me of a fishmonger who gets in shipments of live shrimp and I'll wake up at crazy o'clock to go and get my fair share.

At our annual Thanksgiving meal (at our parish we have a Thanksgiving food fest, delivering food for the poor/elderly/etc.) I must have been the only guy wondering about how to get the skin to maximum crispness (air-dry for 24 hours in the fridge, add a bit of baking soda to the herb rub) or pondering the correct ratio of thyme : sage : marjoram (3:2:1).

That's just the way I am wired. Sue me.

Now, I've been in an Italian-seaside-resort frame of mind recently. Partly because that's just the way it is, and partly because visiting one such resort is a likely option for this summer.


One of the nice things about living on the very Fringe O' Paradise is that seafood doesn't have to be flown in. Throw in the combination of having enough of an Asian population that positively fetishizes fresh seafood and you got something. Among my twelvety frillion errands one day I had decided to include stopping by the Japanese seafood place. (It was my last stop.)

As usual they had a tank full of live shrimp and I managed to get a pound of shrimp which they happily peeled...and with the shells and heads reserved. I had decided to make Sopa de Tomates y Gambas.

It's pretty easy stuff.

Shrimp & Tomato Soup

+/- 3 Tbsp. EVOO
4 cloves of garlic,
sliced translucently thin (you want as much surface area as possible, feel free to add 1-2 more)
1 small yellow onion, diced small but not freakishly so 1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch fennel seeds, roughly cracked
8-10 basil leaves, cut in shreds as fine as your patience will permit
1 lb. diced tomatoes, peeled and seeded (not everyone can get ripe tomatoes in February, so use one 14 oz. can if you must, but under these circumstances I prefer the aseptic package brand, Pomi)
24 oz. seafood stock (I made this with the shrimp shells, but you can go 50-50 water and clam juice)
24 medium shrimp (41-50/lb. is ideal, but the 31-40/lb. size will also work)
Salt to taste

Swirl the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. The nanosecond it shimmers, add the red pepper and fennel seeds -- you won't believe how much the latter will perfume the final dish -- and when that goes fragrant, add the garlic. Wait about half a minute and add the onion; this will "cushion" the garlic and help prevent its burning. When the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes and basil and stir, cooking until the redness of the tomato mutes to a brick-red...figure 5 minutes. Add the seafood stock and bring to a simmer. Add any accumulated juices (esp. if you used frozen) from the shellfish. Return to a simmer. Add the scallops. After 5 minutes, add the shrimp and turn off the heat; cover stockpot. 5 minutes later, the shrimp should be JUST pink. Check and correct seasoning.

Serve. I like mine garnished with roast red peppers and garlic in EVOO, but you do whatev.

PS You WILL need good bread to soak up the liquid. Either that or a straw.


  • At 7:22 AM, February 09, 2008 , Blogger Steve Bogner said...

    Now that looks tasty! And simple - I like it already. I might use a mix of scallops and shrimp; could use most any seafood, I suppose?

  • At 10:11 AM, February 15, 2008 , Blogger Joe said...

    Yes-ish. You want something that is firm (i.e. not lump crabmeat) and sweet (i.e. not mackarel, etc.) and not shuckable (no oysters or clams).

    Octopus and squid would work swell, also.


  • At 10:15 AM, February 15, 2008 , Blogger Joe said...

    P.S. You might be tempted to sear the sacllops first. DON'T. (AMHIK)


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