Serious Eats: Recipes

Essentials: Fast Food, Bittman's Way, with Shrimp

In the past few months Mark Bittman’s shrimp “my way” has become one of my favorite emergency or late-in-the-week meals. This superfast dish is good with a vegetable, on top of rice, or over angel hair pasta. I think it tastes good the next day, too. Because I use frozen shrimp, they can be on the table in half an hour or less with no planning or trip to the store.

For anyone who eats fish, comfort with shrimp cookery is a great asset. They’re so fast and so versatile. Cookbooks warn about the dangers of overcooking the delicate creatures, but I’ve never had really disappointing results with a shrimp recipe (unlike some scallops and sautéed fish fillets I could mention).

As I said, I use frozen (and peeled and deveined, hooray) shrimp here. Fresh would definitely taste better, but at my grocery store the unfrozen shrimp are usually much more expensive, imported from Asia, and previously frozen anyway—three strikes. My frozen shrimp are wild-caught in the Gulf of Mexico, which, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, makes them “eco-OK” (not the best, not the worst). Although my more-greedy-than-discerning palate and I think frozen shrimp taste just fine (especially in a boldy-flavored preparation like this one), yesterday I was curled up with The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper, which pronounces frozen shrimp “close to tasteless.” Hmm.

I cut the recipe in half for two people, using smaller shrimp and therefore broiling for only 4-5 minutes. I’m afraid I’ve never bothered to track down fresh paprika for this dish. The standards for fresh paprika seem to be so high that just thinking about working it all out exhausts me. Chopped fresh parsley, too, is not in the cards on the nights I make this for dinner, but if you’re game I’m sure it’s a nice touch. And if this sounds like a lot of olive oil…well, it is. It’s delicious.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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