OH MY GOD! Garlic!
That was the first though that raced into my head as I popped little pink curl into my mouth.
It is hard to imagine so much flavor from something that amounts to little more than a mouthful.
Salty, tangy, sweet and oh so garlicky. The shrimp were an explosion of garlic flavor.
Garlic was the first flavor that hit and the flavor that lingered.
It was then that I realized, what I had invented was in fact; a garlic orgasm.
It did not start out that way. It was not my intention!
But when it comes to garlic I have no self control.
What I had started to try to do was to create a flavorful side dish that could stand up to the duo of mashes that I had planned for the evening.
The plan was to lower the fat of my sweet potato mash by replacing the cream in the cooking liquid with almond milk. And to contrast that with a nice parsnip mash; something I had tried and liked in restaurants but had never done at home.
It was a simple enough plan.
The trouble started when I found myself staring at a dish full of crushed garlic as I waited for the parsnips to steam. Never to leave well enough alone I was poking at it with a fork, wondering what I was going to do with the shrimp. And as I wondered and poked and pondered I began to realize that what the fork was doing was turning the garlic into a puree.
Salt merely sped up the process and I was on my way. As it was the garlic was far too viscous to do much with, but with the addition of a little olive oil the mixture began to resemble something dippable.
This is where my curiosity got the best of me. What could possibly be bad about dipping shrimp in garlic paste?
And once you have garlic covered shrimp they have to be dipped in something. Something provided by the lonely tub of Parmesan shavings sitting in the back of my fridge.
I had hoped that the Parmesan would melt under the broiler and crisp, providing a lacy little crust to protect the delicate pink shrimp. And I was not disappointed.
By the time the shrimp were pink the Parmesan had started to bubble and brown adding a salty chew to the tender shrimp beneath. Along with not overcooking the shrimp the broiler took garlic’s sharp stinger leaving the intense garlic taste without the sometimes unpleasant bite.
They were a perfect foil for the mellow purees the garlic flavor shining brightly through the thick velvety blanket of parsnip and sweet potato.
I must caution though as it is not the kind of garlic flavor that is for the meek of palate nor the faint of heart. It is the kind of garlic flavor that hops into your mouth, slaps around your taste buds and goes adventuring through your digestive system.
This is the Indiana Jones of shrimp recipes.
Unashamed of its garlic self and ready to whip you into a whole new perspective!
For the garlic lover however, these are shrimp of love!
They are even better the next day as C and I found out when I made it for him up in Spokane. No nearly as pungent the next day the flavor balances a bit more transcending into a whole other kind of garlic delight.
This is a definitely a keeper, though I suppose I would have to mark it under special occasion dishes to be served for the WOW factor if nothing else.
I also think that served on toothpicks, these shrimp would make a phenomenal appetizer.
Just be certain to warn your gets because they will find themselves saying:
OMG Garlic! Shrimp
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined (the larger the better)
6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 heads garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Set the oven to broil!
Line a cookie sheet with foil.
If the shrimp are very big, butterfly them.
Run the cloves through a garlic press, add the salt and mash with a fork while slowly streaming in the olive oil. Continue to mash the garlic until it forms a smooth, thick paste. Thin with olive oil if necessary. Alternatively you can place the garlic in a food processor with the salt and oil and blend until smooth.
Roll the shrimp in the garlic making sure that the paste sticks onto the surface. Drop into the Parmesan and toss to coat.
Place shrimp in a single layer onto the cookie sheet and broil until the Parmesan is bubbly and browned on top and the shrimp are cooked through, no need to turn.
Serve hot with something to mop up the juices.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
4 medium parsnips
Half cup milk, warm
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and sugar
Cut the parsnips into quarters and remove the tough inner core. Cut into half inch chunks.
Steam the parsnips until tender, about 20 minutes. To make a makeshift steamer, place a colander into a pot and bring the water just to the bottom edge of the colander. Bring water to a boil, dropping the parsnips into the colander. Then cover.
Once the parsnips are tender, put them into a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding warm milk as necessary. Add butter and a pinch of salt. Stir until the residual heat melts the butter.
Taste. Parsnips have a tendency to be bitter. If that is the case, a pinch or two of sugar will remove the bitterness.
 The almond milk worked out very well in this recipe but did not provide the sweet, unctuous base that cream does requiring a boost in flavor otherwise. The addition of fresh grated ginger more than made up for the missing cream. So the verdict is: cook with almond milk (which also doesn't curdle) and flavor with something strong. Next time I might have to try lemon garlic and cilantro.