“The fusion of juicy shrimps, crisp vegetables and the nutty sweetness of the sherry elevates this dish to another level. A spoonful will transport you to a lively tapas bar in Spain. (Or, if you so prefer, stretched out luxuriously in the shade of an olive grove on a sunny island in the Aegean Sea)”
The first hit in the dish is the warmth of the spices. The subtle undertones of the coriander, the boldness of the paprika, the zing of black pepper and the in-your-face super spiciness of the cayenne. There is nothing shy or retiring about this dish. It is bold and has no inhibitions about proclaiming it.
But the magic element in the dish is undoubtedly the Indian Vannamei shrimps. Its moistness absorbs the heat of the spices. The juices mingle with the sweet, citrusy flavour of the coriander and the heat of the peppers to bring an explosion of flavour. The plumpness of the shrimps also contrasts wonderfully with the crispness of the vegetables. The delicate bite of the shallots, the tart sweetness of the tomato and the fresh crunch of the bell peppers combine flamboyantly with the luscious firmness of the shrimps. It also gives the dish a superb visual appeal. The pinks, reds and greens jostle together on the plate competing for your attention.
Here is a tip to prevent any unpleasant surprises while cooking shrimps. Be sure to devein it. The vein is basically the digestive tract of the shrimp. While it may sound yucky, there is really nothing wrong in eating it. In fact, shrimps are often cooked with the vein, especially the small and medium ones. However, at times, there is sand left behind in the tract. If so, the shrimp may have a gritty taste and texture. It is quite easy to devein the prawns. Make a slit with a sharp knife on the back of the shrimp. Flick out the black or reddish thread. That’s it, you have successfully deveined the shrimps.
Let us embark on our Mediterranean cruise and put the dish together. After peeling and deveining the shrimps, pat them dry. Drying the shrimps is vital as extra water makes them soggy and prevents the meat from searing. Watery shrimps also will not have that beautiful pink finish, which is the hallmark of a perfectly cooked shrimp dish. Rather, you will be left with an unappetising whitish, blanched look.
The rest of the prep is done in no time. Slice shallots, red and green pepper. Chop the garlic. Peel and dice the tomatoes. Prepare the marinade for the shrimps. Mix together the shrimps, salt, black pepper, paprika, coriander powder, cayenne and sugar. Add a little flour. The flour binds all the ingredients together and helps create a nice coating on the shrimps. You do not have to marinate the shrimps for too long. By the time you saute the vegetables, the shrimps will be ready to jump into the pan.
Heat butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and the garlic. Wait till they release their fragrance and turn translucent. Put in the bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes. We need the crunch of the vegetables in this dish, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the pan. The vegetables should be done in 3-4 minutes. Slide in the shrimps with the marinade. Pour in the sherry and chicken broth (Chicken broth is made by simmering meat in water, often with any vegetable of your interest). Squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the diced tomatoes. Turn off the stove when the shrimps turn orangish-pink. That’s it. A quick and easy dinner – with 20 minutes prep time and 20 minutes cook time – is ready to serve.
The dish is best eaten with hot steaming rice. You can also serve it with crusty slices of bread that will soak up all the flavour of the delicious pan juices. Open a bottle of Spanish wine and let the flavours of the dish take you to the beaches of Corfu, the gondolas of Venice and the glamorous yachts of the French Riviera.
Indian Vannamei Shrimps 450gm
Flour 10 gm
Paprika One teaspoon
Crushed black peppercorn One teaspoon
Salt to taste
Coriander Powder One teaspoon
Cayenne Pepper One teaspoon
Sugar One teaspoon
Butter One tablespoon
Olive oil Two tablespoon
Sliced Shallots One cup
Chopped garlic Two tablespoon
Sliced Red and Green Bell Pepper One cup
Peeled and Diced Tomato One Cup
Chicken Broth 100ml
Lime 1 no.s
Chopped Parsley One tablespoon
Pat the cleaned Indian Vannamei shrimps dry.
Mix in crushed black pepper, salt, sugar, paprika, flour, coriander powder and cayenne.
Add the shrimps and coat well.
In a skillet, melt olive oil and butter over medium heat.
Add shallots, garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add bell peppers and cook for another four minutes
Add the shrimps and cook for a minute.
Add sherry, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and mix well.
Cook until the shrimps turn orange in colour.
Add the chopped parsley and serve with cooked rice.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes