Maine Shrimp Boil
What Exactly are "Maine Shrimp"? - - - - - - - - -
Magictofu (Slurp and Burp) asked me if Maine shrimp are the same as the Matane shrimp they get in Eastern Canada. The answer is yes: they are both Pandalus borealis.
This is the simplest and probably the most popular way to cook and eat Maine shrimp: boil them in salted and herb-perfumed water and just set them out in bowls. Diners snap off the heads, slip the shells from the fresh pink shrimp and pop them in their mouths. Like eating popcorn, it's hard to stop.
Some people like cocktail sauce for dipping the shrimp, but I feel that the sauce obscures the flavor of the shrimp so usually we just eat them plain with a little lemon juice squeezed over them. Beer is the traditional beverage pairing, but white wine works well too.
Maine Shrimp Boil
(Adapted from traditional Lousiana methods, which can be found at the fabulous Gumbo Pages. )
Serves 2 - 4, depending on appetites!
2 lb fresh Maine shrimp, heads on, unpeeled (see note)
3 quarts water
3 T salt
2 bay leaves
2 T black peppercorns
2 T coriander seed
1 T yellow mustard seed
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
Bring the water to a boil and add the salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seed, mustard seed, dill seed, cloves, pepper flakes and wine. Halve one of the lemons, squeeze the juice into the water and then drop the lemon halves in. Simmer the water ten minutes to develop the flavor, then raise to a boil and dump in the shrimp and cook, stirring, two minutes -- no more -- and immediately drain in a colander. Rinse briefly with cold water, drain, and serve with lemon wedges, a big bowl for the shells, and plenty of napkins.
The heads and shells both add flavor to the dish but in the end they are discarded, so you can do this dish with headless or even peeled shrimp if that's what you find at the market. Remember that with less waste you'll need less weight for the same number of servings. If you are cooking them peeled reduce the cooking time to one minute only.
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