There’s at least one good reason to look forward to the dead of winter: Maine sweet shrimp. In his cookbook “The New England Kitchen” (Rizzoli, 2014), chef Jeremy Sewall offers the best way he knows to cook and enjoy them.
Crisp Sweet Shrimp
There are a lot of ways to cook Maine sweet shrimp, but nothing beats tossing them in batter and frying them up. The Maine shrimp season takes place in the dead of winter; most are caught by large draggers that scoop them up by the thousands. Since sweet shrimp are very perishable, they are usually sold canned or frozen. Some fishermen, like my cousin Mark, catch sweet shrimp in traps. There is a huge difference between shrimp that’s been dragged and shrimp that’s been trapped: the quality and size of trapped shrimp are always superior.
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
- 1 pound peeled Maine sweet shrimp
- 1 quart canola oil
- 3 cups Seasoned Flour (recipe follows)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
- 4 lemon wedges
- 1/2 cup Aïoli (page 222)
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and Tabasco sauce; add the shrimp, toss to coat it in the mixture, and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 1 hour.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot until it reaches 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Drain the excess liquid off the shrimp. Pour the flour into a shallow dish and, using your hands, toss the shrimp in the flour, coating them very well; shake off the excess flour and carefully place the shrimp in the hot oil. Fry for 45 to 60 seconds; they should be lightly browned and crisp. Remove the shrimp to a paper towel to drain; season with salt and pepper while hot. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and aïoli for dipping.
Makes about 3 cups
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, dry mustard, turmeric, paprika, salt, and white pepper, making sure to combine thoroughly.
(Recipe from “The New England Kitchen” by Jeremy Sewall and Erin Byers Murray, Rizzoli)