Coast Cooking

Perfect shrimp are always a delight

Is there anything that comes from the Gulf of Mexico, or the world’s oceans for that matter, that is more perfect than shrimp?

Of course I refer to wild-caught Mississippi shrimp, as I have a great prejudice for them. They are abundant, relatively inexpensive, and, if you've got your technique down pat, they are delicious.

There are many ways to fry, boil, or sauté a shrimp, and I won't be critical of any method that does not include overcooking them. Nothing is as dreadful as a tender, most shrimp, cooked into oblivion.

No matter the method, a shrimp is cooked after just one minute, or perhaps to finish the sauce they are cooked in, three minutes is max. After that they degrade and in short order become gut-bombs.

I am fond of frying shrimp, and if you follow my advise on quick cooking, they absorb very little oil compared to wallowing around in a sauté pan for five or 10 minutes.

They are great when tossed in flour, cornmeal, or panko, and the Brit style of making a real batter is great as well. But here is a recipe a Vietnamese chef gave me years ago.

1 pound large shrimp

1 cup tempura powder

1-2 cups panko bread crumbs

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (or your favorite)

Toss the most shrimp in the tempura, shake off the excess and place of a sheet pan. Let them sit until the moisture has soaked through, or mist them with water.

When they are tacky, toss in the panko, shake off excess and fry in almost smoking hot oil for just one minute, maybe less if they brown too quickly. Remove, set aside and salt if you like. As with all fried foods, serve at once.