Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Gulf Spill, part II

I am a stay at home mom living on a little island off the coast of the Florida/Georgia border.  I am a bit isolated to say the least. If it were not for the internet, I would be lost.  I asked Chef the other day,

"The oil spill...are people talking about it everywhere?  It is a HUGE deal...are people even aware?"  He assured me that it is on everyone's mind. 

Yesterday I checked the Huffington Post and the cover story was Tar Balls off of Key West.  It is a fear of ours that the oil is going to hit the Gulf Stream and make its way up the eastern seaboard.  Fear is an would be a nightmare.  Aside from the environmental devastation, our little beach town is utterly dependent on  tourism during the summer months to provide for us during the off season.  If the oil makes its way to our beaches it will be ruinous to our livelihood here, as well as many other small business owners.

As someone who is in the restaurant biz, I am blown away that the oil rig, the culprit of this catastrophe, was able to operate without being up to code.  I mean it is drilling a hole into the Earth's core for god sakes.  At our little bistro, if we so much as leave a cup of diet soda near our food window, we face a citation from our inspector.  It just goes to show the disparity between the regulation of small businesses vs. big business in this country.

I feel a need to eat as much seafood as possible in the upcoming months.  For 2 reasons, to support fishermen that are literally fishing for their lives right now in order to stockpile cash to feed their families in the event the oil destroys their careers as mariners, and because who may be the last time for a long time that seafood from this region of the country is safe to eat.

Last week we had two rounds of company roll through.  Life long friends of mine that came to offer a hand with The Sprout and Lil' Bit.  Dishes were washed, laundry was done, babies were was really wonderful.  We ended this lovely week feasting on local shrimp with a vegetarian...who ate shrimp for the first time in 15 years.  We felt honored she would indulge with us.  The dish served: the most extraordinary shrimp scampi...made with shrimp that was swimming in the ocean the day before.

I am not a big scampi fan, mainly because it usually arrives on a plate swimming in a sea of oil flecked with red pepper.  I always feel like I need to wash my face after eating it.  But this scampi is something very different.  It is baked in butter, garlic, and Panko breadcrumbs... and let me tell is one of the best shrimp dishes you will ever eat.  As you can see, we didn't enjoy it one bit.

Here is the recipe.  Go forth and buy wild Gulf shrimp, if possible. If not, wild US shrimp of any variety will do.  Spend the money to support our fishermen and treat yourself to something incredible.  It may be the last time you get to eat shrimp from our nation's Gulf savor it.

Baked Shrimp Scampi / Ina Garten aka The Barefoot Contessa


  • 2 lbs shrimp in the shell
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Lemon wedges for serving 
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp (see note,) leaving the tails on.  Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  • Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic.
  • In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined.
  • Starting from the outer edge of a 14 inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and toward the center of the dish.
  • Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp.  Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. 
  • Bake for 10 to 12 min (We find you should bake for more like 25 minutes) until hot and bubbly.
  • If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute.  
  • Serve with lemon wedges.

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