Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crustacean Cornucopia

Since I'm not doing the Daring Baker's challenge this month, I thought I would write about some of the other cooking I did instead.

*********SEAFOOD ALERT!!**************
Warning:  If descriptions and pictures of little crustaceans are more than you can handle - scroll quickly!

On Thursday, while preparing for dinner, I got a call from Bob saying he was bringing home some crawfish - live crawfish!  Whoa!  This meant springing into immediate action:  checking internet for live crawfish recipes, finding the SwampFire Seafood Boil that I knew I had because I'm an impulse shopper with no self-control, and finding another pot in which to cook the little beasties.  Since I was already planning to have prawns for dinner and couldn't delay that since they were ready to cook and all the prep had been done, I had two large pots on the cooktop heating up to receive the bounty headed in their direction.

My plan for dinner was a new recipe from the New York Times.  The Yucatan Shrimp recipe is from a restaurant in the Sanibel/Captiva Islands off the west coast of Florida.  The restaurant, Doc Ford's, is owned by a writer of detective stories (I have one of his books waiting at the library), and the description of this recipe and its popularity intrigued me.  While they use Gulf shrimp, I'm not sure how viable an option this will be in the future.  In any event, I used other shrimp and it seemed to work.  The sauce is a butter, garlic, lime, and sambal oelek (Indonesian hot chile sauce) mixture, and a little jalapeno pepper and cilantro are tossed in at the end.

INSERT PERSONAL OPINION HERE:  I added the cilantro because Bob likes it.  I do not understand why anyone likes cilantro - it smells awful and tastes like soap.  I know there is a physiological reason some people dislike cilantro and whatever it is, I've got it.  I picked all mine off.

The whole dish is extremely easy to pull together but messy to eat, since the shrimp are cooked with the shell on.  Spicy, limy, buttery - yum!  I threw together a mango and pineapple salad with a little more lime juice and some mint to counteract the heat of the shrimp.

This clearly would have been a good meal by itself, but I still had the crawfish to cook.  I had heard about SwampFire seafood boil and promptly ordered some because I "had" to have it.  If I had a plan, I don't remember what it was, but as it turns out, it was the right thing to have sitting on the pantry shelf.

A true crawfish boil uses potatoes and onions and spicy sausage (andouille, perhaps), a lot of lemons and the crawfish.  Not only did I not have potatoes or andouille, I had no room in my pot for them.  Instead, I added several lemon halves to the seafood boil, and heated it up.  When the crawfish arrived, they did not need purging - they were very clean - so we just rinsed them off, Bob gloved up and transferred them to the boiling mixture.  About 6-7 minutes later, I turned off the heat and let them soak up the spicy mixture for a while. 

Another little aside:  Bob doesn't like to work for food.  When we have Dungeness crab, I spend time cracking and extracting the crab meat so he can just eat it without having to waste his time dealing with the shell.  Dungeness crab is a piece of cake compared to other crustaceans.  The meat is easy to remove, comes in pretty large pieces and it doesn't take too long to have enough crab to feed a couple people.  Crawfish, on the other hand, are a lot more work.  There is very little meat - just the tail of the critter - and it isn't easy to get to it.  The head, which you twist off, can (and should) be sucked, but the tail has to be broken open.  It takes a long time to get any amount of crawfish into your belly.  And I don't do crawfish for Bob -he has to do his own.

This was a messy, multiple-napkin meal and we didn't even start eating until after 8 PM.  There were leftovers since 2 pounds of shrimp and 75 crawfish are way more than two people can eat.  And there were lots of shells to dispose of and pots to empty.  But it was well worth the effort and last minute frenzy for this meal.  And I got leftovers for lunch!

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