There are hundreds, most likely hundreds of thousands of recipes that pair the humble tomato and the glamorous shrimp. In fact, the marriage of these two “food groups” seems to be made in heaven and are represented with delicious recipes in every cuisine and in just about every culture.
Scanning a list of recipes, I see Shrimp Cacciatore, Shrimp Creole, Tomato Shrimp brochettes with Tomato-Basil Champagne Sauce, Seafood Paella, Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Shrimp Cream Sauce, Bahian Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Tomato, Shrimp Poached in Tomato-Tarragon Sauce, Barbecued Shrimp Skewers with Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Aioli, Tomato Florentine soup with Shrimp, Shrimp in Saffron and Tomato Broth, and Shrimp Gumbo; as you can see this list is truly endless and only limited by the imagination and daring of the cook.
To quote a much loved character, Bubba Blue from the movie Forest Gump:
“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.
You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautée it.
There's, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp Creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried,
deep fried, stir fried.
There's pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp,
pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad,
shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich... that's about it.”
My favorite way of eating the tomato-shrimp duo, especially in the summer, is in a simple shrimp cocktail, but with a splash of hooch...!
I found this recipe a few months ago on foodnetwork.com and adapted it for my preferences using either good canned tomatoes or ripe fresh tomatoes in season.
Kitchen geek factoid: The reason that I use vodka in this recipe is that the tomato has alcohol dissolvable flavors that we would miss without that ingredient.
Water cannot dissolve organic molecules, which is why oil and water do not mix.
Alcohol is a flavor carrier. Along with oil and fat, alcohol is an organic molecule, and can mix with other organic molecules. That is why you will see many pasta sauce recipes calling for an addition of wine to enhance the flavor of the tomato.
So in honor of my favorite swashbuckling pirate, Jack Sparrow, I present my take on the Shrimp Cocktail.
Bloody Pirate Shrimp Cocktail
(1 lemon and 1 lime for juice and
1 lemon and 1 lime for curls and wedges for garnish)
25 jumbo shrimp,(wild caught preferred over farm raised for better flavor) cooked and cleaned.
1 (28-ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes
(If you so choose, you can use about 20 medium sized ripe home grown tomatoes in this recipe. They will need to be peeled, seeded, diced and simmered over medium heat until fork tender. Then crush the tomatoes slightly with a fork. Add one teaspoon brown sugar and combine to cut the acidity. Then you can use them as you would the canned version.)
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 tablespoons Worcestershire, or to taste
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 shots ice cold vodka
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste (I use sea salt as it is purported to be lower in sodium than standard table salt. An also I haven’t had table salt in my home for a number of years.)
Squeeze the juice of one of the lemons and limes over the shrimp and sprinkle them very lightly with sea-salt.
Mix together the remaining lemon and lime juices, tomatoes, horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce, celery, vodka and pepper in a small bowl. When ready to serve, spoon the sauce into pre-chilled martini glasses.
Make garnish of lemons and limes into curls, of cut small wedges enough for one lemon and on lime per glass
Hook 4-5 shrimp on the edges of the glasses and serve.
This will feel five or six people as an appetizer.
Tip: Chill your martini glasses in your freezer the morning of your
dinner or party to serve these cocktails.
Just an small side note on the glass design…
I wanted to share some information on these etched crystal martini glasses that I used in the styling of these shrimp images.
They are pricey beyond what I could ever afford.
But they I acquired them as ‘a major award’ that I won in an architectural design contest. I treasure them more for the award than for their inherent worth, but I love that they give beautiful food a lovely backdrop.
These original hand-etched and signed glasses were designed by the talented artist, Michael Weems, who has worked extensively with Gucci and Tiffany.
I find them so serviceable for many purposes yet simply stunning on their own.
They are usually sold in sets of all one color, but for the award I received one in each of the six colors in this artist’s design palate…
white (clear), lime, wine, cobalt, aquamarine and rosé (pink).
I just wanted to share their singular beauty and this talented designer’s work with all of you, my dear readers.
How do you like to eat Shrimp and tomatoes in these last warm days of summer…?