If Yan Could Cook. . .

Killer Shrimp

with one comment

Blogs that link to other blogs are so very bloggy. It’s interesting that acting as a sieve for the lush, seething waters of the internet is now considered a creative endeavor. It’s like being a critic who only delivers positive reviews and doesn’t actually write any criticism, merely points (that over there, that’s good), under the assumption that anything bad will simply be ignored.

Sometimes I want to do this, just roll out lists of good things with minimal justification: Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com (he’s still angry in the midst of a culture of complacency and resignation)! Lore Sjoberg on Wired.com (he’s still funny for the sake of being funny without the heady, serious subtext and social responsibility that seems to be a requirement of comedy these days)! Hey Ocean (a band truly like no other, in no way imitative or derivative, incomparable, happy as an afternoon in the sun)!

Last night was the first time in several months that I followed a recipe more or less verbatim, so posting about it is very much an act of blog-pointing. Killer Shrimp from Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen seemed like a great party food, so I called up my usual party and went to work. I omitted the clam juice and only used about one and half pounds of shrimp. Her instructions about crushing the spices but keeping them whole made a mortar and pestle seem inappropriate; I worked them with a fork in a bowl. After tasting it early on, it seemed like the lemon rind was giving too much bitterness, so I pulled out all but about 1/6th of a lemon. Photos by Laura D’Alessandro.

It was just as much fun to eat as the recipe promised. Two baguettes for five people was actually not enough – there was so much sauce-mopping and shrimp-shucking to be done. A big fruit salad of cherries, honeydew, strawberries, and grapes provided a nice balance to the spicy heat. The heft of the meal and the cold Mexican beer going around left everyone in a pleasant daze. My friend Phil pointed out that my apartment is well-equipped for dinner, but not after dinner – there is nowhere for everyone to pass out comfortably, rubbing their stomaches.

It’s tempting, in something like this, to be modest or self-depreciating, to paint myself as a bumbling amateur. And I wonder if I’m supposed to respond to compliments about my food that way (aw, shucks, it’s nothing, the shrimp is a little overcooked, anyone could have done it). Most of the time I give a slight, tilted nod, a gesture I’m pretty sure I picked up from my father. Is this respectful, or arrogant? The food was fantastic. You couldn’t have done it as easily. I agree completely.

And in a professional kitchen, we snipe at each other, make backhanded comments. A cook I know convinced the boss to buy small egg pans because he couldn’t use the flat-top. The next day, this conversation:

Him: “Don’t you love the new pans?”
Me: “I don’t know. The eggs do look kind of cute. They’re all right, the flat-top was alright.”
Him: “Yeah, but that’s because your eggs are always perfect. You’re good.”
Me: “…So what are you?”

This kind of conversation is so common that no love was lost between us. Although that is nothing compared to the evils we inflict upon the waitstaff. One day I came in and two cooks were laughing hysterically. “What happened?” I asked.

“We made one of the waiters cry,” was the response.


Written by skimfu

August 20, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Shrimp

One Response

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  1. Really enjoying your blog. Looking forward to more.


    August 22, 2008 at 3:46 pm

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