Eating Nose to Tail

During the Halloween season nose to tail eating gets a few choice moments in the sun.  Food TV seems to trot out heads, tongues and trotters at the same time as they whip out the cotton cob webs and witch hats.  Eating all the less desired bits of animals conjures something sinister in many minds, as if there is something unnatural about happily munching on pig tails, chicken feet and liver.

For the last year I've been writing a couple recipe columns for SeriousEats, and in honour of Halloween I thought I'd post a few links to the more nose to tail inspired posts that the benevolent Editors in SE headquarters have let me sneak through.
Some bloody, tasty chicken insides.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween, filled with many delicious, scary meals.
Thanks to twitter, I was able to get some advice from Jamie Bissonette the Chef at both Coppa, and Toro about how to cook some of the shrimp I got through my CSF. 

His advice - "fry them in their shells until crispy. Toss with nauc chum, mint and cilantro. So simple. Soooo good"

I took his recommendation in spirit (because I had no nauc chum, mint or cilantro in the house) and tossed them in some arrowroot flour seasoned heavily with salt and pepper and deep fried them.

My first step was to soak them in cold water, changing the water every 10-20 minutes.  After five or six changes of water I set the shrimp on a paper towel to dry.
Next I heavily seasoned some arrowroot flour with a lot of salt and cracked black pepper.  Then I heated some vegetable oil over medium high heat and cooked the flour coated shrimp in small batches.
I fried four shrimp at a time, but I used a pretty small pot.
I was finishing a soup for dinner as well, so I held these shrimp in a 375 degree oven until I was ready to serve.
Fried Northern shrimp tossed with scallions.
A big dish of shrimp in the center of the table, and a few shrimp on top of each bowl of soup as a garnish.
Shrimp and fish stock, seasoned with lemongrass and ginger with fried shrimp cabbage and soba noodles.
Pull off the head to suck on (or eat whole!) then pop the whole tail in your mouth.  I've talked about eating shrimp tails before, and these really sealed it for me.  Shrimp tails are absolutely delicious.

Thanks for the great advice Jamie!
Thanks to Kumiko Mitarai at SeriousEats I've had a craving for onigiri.  And my leftover shrimp and rice from dinner will make four perfect little onigiri.  First I had to shell the shrimp -  the shells I saved to throw in the fish stock I've got planned for later.
Tiny little shrimp tails.
To make the filling for my onigiri I coarsely chopped the shrimp, then added a spoonfull of mayo and a big squirt of sriracha.
Shrimp, mayo, sriracha.
Next I simply filled my onigiri, sprinkled them with toasted sesame seeds and wrapped them with nori.
Shrimp onigiri
Wrapped in plastic these keep well in the fridge for a few days, but are much better at room temperature.  These little guys will  not be sitting in the fridge at all.
Through my CSF I ordered one share of northern shrimp, which is way more shrimp than you could possibly imagine when you're standing in a parking lot at 530 on a Monday night.
Northern Shrimp
And yet, when you toss what feels like a little less than half of them in sriracha and mirin then cook them over high heat, licking your lips the entire time, and finally sit down to dinner the truth about these shrimp begins to unfold.  Once you pull off their heads, they are actually very tiny.
Quickly cooked northern shrimp.
The largest ones were the size of my index finger (with their heads still on) and the smallest ones were half the size of my pinky.  The taste was delicate and sweet, and even though it was dinner you had to work for (not unlike artichokes) I would definitely get them again.

This was dinner for two (with a bowl of rice and some wilted spinach) and there were about a cup and a half of whole shrimp leftover.  As well as a bowl of rice.  Thanks to SeriousEats, I've had a real hankering for some onigiri - I'm thinking lunch tomorrow.
Community Supported Agriculture has been around for a few years, it's an excellent way to support small farms as well as eating local.  Those of us who live on the coast also have access to community supported fishing (or CSF).  The community supported fishing that we participate in offers whole fish shares as well as fillets.  And although scaling, and sometimes gutting fish may not be everyone's idea of a great time on a Monday night, the quality of fish is awesome (and way cheaper if you get the whole fish share) and the practice with a knife is worth the time (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

So far I've gotten pollock, haddock and monkfish.  This week it was redfish, along with a special share of Northern shrimp that I ordered a few weeks ago.
Whole redfish.
These are a smaller variety of fish, so these guys came with guts and all.  The fisherman process the larger fish varieties so they come gutted (and the monkfish came headless), these were the first small fish we've received so it was the first time I've had to gut anything with this share.

The three smallest fish I scaled, gutted and filleted.  Some of the fillet's I put in a marinade for later this week and the heads and bodies I saved for stock.
Heads, tails and fillets.
I sautéed onion, celery, carrot, garlic and ginger in butter until tender then placed some shrimp bodies on top (leftover from last night's dinner) followed by the fish heads.
Followed by the fish bodies.
Tails on heads.
I covered all of it with a kettle of boiling water and then simmered for one and a half hours with a few peppercorns and a bay leaf.  Be sure to skim often, I ended up straining it twice through two different sized strainers.
Strained out shrimp and fish.
Dinner tonight will be some of the fillet's poached in the stock, I haven't decided whether to add tomatoes and some of my whole shrimp for a European fish stew kind of thing, or to simmer some lemongrass in the stock and add soba noodles shrimp, veggies and a few dumplings for a totally different meal.
After  spending the day with a large amount of serrano ham, I really needed something soothing to put in my belly.  There are a lot of things that I find soothing (rice flour rolls, hot toddy's, leftover roast beef, warm bread, all soups) but today it was a bowl of streamed broccoli topped with dried shrimp and sriracha with a simple garlic/ginger congee.
These dried shrimp are far more delicate than the last ones I used in congee, much smaller as well - almost translucent.  Far less toothy and fishy.  It's a little hard to see in the picture, but I love the little black eyes staring out from their pinkish translucent bodies.

Use 1/4 cup of rice and 1 cup of water, with 1 clove or diced garlic and 1 knob of mashed ginger to make a very simple, easy on the stomach congee.  Just bring everything to a simmer, cook until the rice is soft, and season with soy sauce and/or fish sauce . Then simply steam the broccoli and top with dried shrimp and a drizzle of sriracha.  A few shakes of sesame seeds are nice as well.

If anyone has a suggestion of what else to do with dried shrimp I'd love to hear them.
Why hello there!  It's been a while, hasn't it?  Why, yes.  Yes it has.

Alright, it's been a busy summer.  Lots of time spent with friends.  New job, with new hours.  My first 40 hour, nine to five.

With summer came summer grill outs.  Late this summer I discovered the joy of grilling head-on shrimp, especially in a simple chili marinade.
There's something so satisfying about looking your lunch in their beady little eyes.  These guys cost 7$ and change for a pound and a half at my new favorite store HMART.  If you've got one in your area go right now.

Marinate overnight if you've got the time, if not try to baste them for the minute and a half they are on the grill.  For this particular batch I used Sriracha sauce and another one or two chili sauces floating around my fridge.  Truthfully, it's really hard to screw up a recipe of grilled shrimp.
The great thing about shrimp is that even with their heads still on 90% of people will still eat them.  My dear friend Mandy, who is not a nose to tail person at all, ate these and loved them.  Granted she did not go as far as sucking on their little heads after tearing them off like some of us - but still.
Serve hot off the grill and definitely suck on their little heads - lots of great flavour in there.

Looking forward to fall and some nice slow braises.  Maybe I'll even tackle tripe.
My recent post about eating shrimp tails seemed to get some good response, so I thought I'd do about post about eating whole shrimp.  Once again, for breakfast.  Congee is a rice porridge, flavoured with fish sauce and soy sauce, and whatever else you have on hand.  It's a terrific breakfast dish for those of us who want the comfort of porridge, but don't really dig sweet in the morning.

The last time I made congee I did not have any dried shrimp.  This time, thanks to my dear friend Jo at Create A Cook, I have some lovely whole dried shrimp in Korean chili oil that are going to be perfect for my little pot of congee.  When I say whole I mean shells, eyes, little flipper things - the entire creature.  These shrimp are a tad larger than the dried shrimp I've used in the past, so I'm excited to see what kind of texture they are going to add to my dish.
My new ingredient.
The basic recipe I use is by David Lebovitz - it's a terrific recipe that you can really make your own.  In my opinion congee (or Jook as it's sometimes called) does not keep very well.  For one person I use a quarter cup of rice and a half cup of water.  Although, I add a fair bit of water during the cooking process to give it the right porridgy consistency.

I add my minced ginger and garlic as soon as the rice/water mixture starts to simmer.  The other ingredients are based on what I have on hand, and added when the rice has begun to get soft.  Some diced carrot, frozen peas, a pinch of salt and once the rice is tender I add a little dash of fish sauce and soy sauce as well as my dried shrimp.
Shrimp, ginger, peas and carrot.
The chili oil that the shrimp were packaged in gave my congee a little heat which added a surprising element to the congee.  I don't normally add any chili's but after this experience they are going to become a regular player.

The whole shrimp added body (literally) and texture to the congee.  And although they were larger than the dried shrimp I had used previously they still managed to add to the dish without taking away from any of the other flavours or textures.
I think this is possibly the best congee I've ever made.  The flavours are all working together, nothing it too overpowering and it's warm and soothing on the tongue.
Last bite.
I'm ready to face my day, even if I'm wishing I'd made enough for a second bowl.
This morning I was eating leftover sushi for breakfast, trying to think of what to do for my next post when I realized my next post was sitting on my plate.  A shrimp tail sticking out of a roll - with its shell still on.
I eat shrimp tails.  I always have.  I like the crunch and structure that they have.  Ross thinks I'm nuts - and he's not the first whose felt that way.

You can make stock with shrimp shells, but that's only if you've got a lot of them.  And when I was in Tokyo last year I had a tempura'd shrimp shell that was mind-opening, as well as whole shrimp shell on.  But other than that if you've got a lonely shell on the plate and don't want to be wasteful what's a girl to do?

My thinking is that they must be calcium rich, and I'm not dead yet so I'm pretty sure they aren't bad for me.  And although Ross is used to it (in fact he saves me the end piece because he knows I like it) when eating sushi with new friends I still get questioned about my tail-eating habits.

So my question is - does anyone else out there eat shrimp tails?  Or am I alone on this one?