Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gambas a la Plancha

So I know I promised to say more about those crazy Mayan Shrimp that I picked up at The Lobster Place.  We picked them up on Saturday, and made them for a late lunch on Sunday, but I never got around to posting the recipe that night (or Monday night for that matter).  But here I am finally; better late than never.  As for the shrimp themselves, they were by far the largest shrimp or prawns that I have ever purchased (or seen for that matter).  The name shrimp is totally deceptive because it conjures up much smaller mental images.  These shrimp are colossal.  Dave Pasternak at Esca described them as "Chernobyl shrimp."  I think we bought just over a pound - maybe 1.15 lbs, and we only bought 8 of those bad boys.  I knew that my Mario Batali cookbooks had some recipes for giant prawns/shrimp, so they were the first place I looked when I wanted to figure out what to do with my shrimp.  This recipe won out because it was the simplest, and as such, seemed like it would be the best way to really showcase the shrimp themselves.  If you are going to go to the expense and trouble of buying these crazy shrimp (which I think cost roughly $20 a pound), you should make sure that you don't mask the sweetness of the shrimp by using an overly complicated recipe and overly powerful ingredients or seasonings.

And with this recipe all you tasted was shrimp.  It really was sweet and meaty, with a far more intense flavor than your average shrimp.  The shrimp were also really juicy.  Alex's complaint about the shrimp was that they were a bit of a pain in the butt to eat.  Apparently when you don't have any fingernails it can be quite difficult to peel a Mayan shrimp.  I didn't have any trouble, but Alex certainly did.  I countered by saying that they are no more a pain in the butt than crabs and crawfish.  Alex's response to that was that we're from Maryland - blue crabs, beer and football are what we do.  I guess I can't argue with that.  But even if the dish was a bit messy and labor-intensive, I thought it was quite tasty and fun to make.

Recipe after the jump!

Gambas a la Plancha
Spain: A Culinary Road Trip
By Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow

coarse sea or kosher salt
1 lb large head-on shrimp in the shell (we used some gigantic Mayan Shrimp from Guatemala)

Heat a plancha or large cast-iron skillet over a hot grill fire or medium-high heat until hot.  Spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of salt on the plancha (or in the skillet).  Lay the shrimp on the salt and cook until opaque throughout, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Serve with plenty of napkins.

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