Thursday, April 22, 2010

CSA week 20 - Shrimp and celery escabeche

This is a recipe from Saveur that I found when I was looking around for pickled celery variations. The call it "Shrimp and Pickled Celery" which not only misplaces the "pickled" (since the shrimp is pickled too), but undersells the dish. The shrimp is cooked first so this is an escabeche, which is substantially more interesting than a straight pickle. That's why I chose to make it; I may not have done anything to prove it in the last year, but escabeche variations still intrigue me.

Other than halving it, and using most of a head of celery instead of two celery hearts, I didn't make any changes to their recipe. On their site, instead of reposting recipes from elsewhere, they just have a short description and a link. It would be rude for me rewrite their recipe here instead, I think. Here's the link for the full recipe, but it's pretty simple, really.

Throw together a bunch of herbs and spices with sugar and vinegar. Simmer to dissolve everything and cool.

Simmer the celery in flavored water. Remove to the brine. Poach the shrimp in the same water, cool, peel, clean, mix with the celery and let sit to pickle.

They give the range of soaking the shrimp and celery in the pickling brine for one hour to overnight. I found that even a few hours wasn't enough; it needed a full day. That may have been because there wasn't quite enough brine to cover everything so I added enough of the cooking liquid to get everything to float.

First off, let me recommend sticking with the original recipe's recommendation of using celery hearts instead of whole stalks. The outer stalks stay tough and stringy despite the simmer and soak. The heart and the leafy ends get nicely tender, though, and soak up some nice flavor from the brine and a little from the shrimp too. A good bit of celery flavor remains, though, so this is legitimately a celery dish. I wouldn't consider shrimp and celery an obvious pairing, but it's not uncommon. There's defnitely a synergy with the two together with the shrimp taking the edge off the celery's flavor and the celery underlaying the shrimp's light sweetness. Here, I think the sweet/tart/salty of the brine and dressing helps bring them together. I'm quite liking the dish, but it's best in small doses. Some appetizers you can make a meal of; this one's just too pickly.

1 comment:

kat said...

This sounds really good to me too, I think celery is really under appreciated.