Thanks to an old friend from graduate school I recently had the privilege of teaching a nose to tail eating class at Newbury College. The students were all seniors, excellent cooks and enthusiastic about food.
We cooked a lot of food - grilled pig tails, chili beef heart, snapper collars, sweetbreads, marrow bones and as a special treat Jamie Bissonette left us a pig head from his butchering demo. It was an awesome day and I really hope they invite me back next year.
Here are a few pictures from that class - and if any of those students read this and want to cook some more offal sometime soon, definitely drop me a line!
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.
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.
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.
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.
My stock boiled away for several hours, smelling delicious. Eventually I plucked out the head to see what I'd been left with. As with most heads there was a good amount of meat, and all the hours of boiling had actually done very good things to the tongue, but the brain was mush. Very close to the texture of wallpaper paste.
I picked the meat, and peeled the tongue. The broth was very strong, my thought is that they killed the lamb by inserting something into its head, which bled quite a bit (I discovered that after I cleavered the head open) so there was quite a bit of blood in the stock. Not something I thought about.
The scotch broth I made had loads of flavour, but to me seemed a tad gamier than it normally is. And I'm admittedly disappointed about not getting to try some yummy fried brains, or cold brains on toast.
I did, however, get a very flavourful (if maybe a tad gamey) bowl of soup.
Thanks to my new meat CSA (Stillman's Turkey Farm) I've managed to get my hands on a lambs head.My grand plan was to break down my lambs head into it's various parts (skull, brain, tongue) and use each of those elements in different dishes. This pan was derailed when I realized that in order to break down this head I needed a saw. And I do not have a food safe saw.
Trying my best to break it down, this didn't help at all.
The obvious solution to my dilemma is soup. I'm hoping that if I keep my stock boiling really low then my tongue and brain wont get overcooked. We'll see how I do.
Fingers crossed my plan works!
Worst case scenario is a really killer batch of scotch broth - and all things considered that's a pretty awesome worst case.
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.