“How we see food”
It is so interesting to try to see the world through my children’s eyes. I thought I was the world’s coolest mom and tried recently to hang out with my kids and their friends, only to hear, “Mom, you’re not going to watch that movie with us are you?” Or, I show Daphne some really fashionable clothes I’d like to buy her and she says, “Mom, that’s so seventies.” I guess I am not as cool as I believed I was. Shoot. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what it was like to be ten or eleven. Thinking back, the world was a very different place then, in my mind. I had two of the very best friends in the world, which I still see and love. We never hung out with my parents really. And, my mom never would have worn the clothes I wore: plastic shoes, pants that were too tight at the ankles and socks pulled up over my pant legs. I had a variety of plastic bead necklaces and wore my hair in a side pony. What was important and what I believed was cool or expensive or elegant has certainly changed over the years.
When I was a child and my parents took me out to dinner, I remember Shrimp Scampi was a very special dish. I only saw it on menus at the finest restaurants. It was always one of the more expensive items on the menu. I adored it. I think I developed a fondness for butter at a very young age. Scampi was always smothered in butter and garlic and served with rice or pasta. Rice and pasta were also high on my list of foods I loved.
It surprised me to discover that the word scampi actually derives from a variety of Norwegian lobsters. It has developed into a term used to describe the method of preparation. In the United States, the word is a culinary term for shrimp cooked with a white wine, garlic and butter sauce. Also, it can refer to deep fried shrimp. The grilled shrimp with the wine and butter sauce is the definition I am familiar with; although, I wouldn’t mind trying some of those Norwegian lobsters. I’d still add the buttery sauce and call it scampi-scampi. That sounds fantastic too. I absolutely love lobster and cannot wait for spring or summer to write about lobster sandwiches. Mmmm…lobster sandwiches; but, I digress.
There was a restaurant in my home town called Bodega Bay. Now, I realize, it wasn’t that fancy. It had checkered table cloths and plastic flowers in vases on each table. But, I thought it was very elegant when I was ten or eleven years old. This was a seafood restaurant and when we went there, I always ordered the scampi. I felt like a very sophisticated child even with my unicorn necklace and pinkish white lipstick.
I asked Claud last night to think back and tell me what dish he remembered being special, elegant and expensive when he went out to eat with his parents. He told me it was the Dover sole. When anyone ordered Dover sole, the server brought it over to the table and filleted it in front of everyone. It was like a performance…dinner and a show. Claud thought he was very privileged when he ordered this. It was also served in a buttery sauce. No wonder we are so compatible.
Later in life, it surprised me to discover how easy shrimp scampi is to prepare and that it is very affordable. It still can be pricey in restaurants, but for a few extra dollars it will be worth it. To make it at home, it’s very reasonable. In fact, this week you can buy wild caught in the United States shrimp at Hyvee (2015 S. Broadway St., New Ulm) for $5.99 per pound. They also sell it with the shells already removed. However, I recommend cooking shrimp with the shells intact because the flavor is so much better. Shrimp takes minutes to grill and the sauce is so simple to prepare. Of course, today, I have created a sauce that’s heavier on the garlic and olive oil and much lighter on the butter. However, I still add a tiny bit of butter to get that magic flavor which brings me back to the decadence I believed I was experiencing as a little girl. You can make it with pasta, rice (white or brown), or cous cous. Daphne always orders shrimp scampi when she sees it on a menu. I don’t know if she thinks it is an elegant dish, but it reminds me that we are a lot alike.
Time: 30 minutes
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned, deveined with shells on
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ Tbsp. thyme
½ Tbsp. Emeril’s Essence
½ Tbsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 C. white or rose wine
Juice from half of a lemon
1 Tbsp butter
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
4 cups cooked Basmati rice
Start cooking the rice and it will be ready when everything else is finished. Pour olive oil into a sauce pan. Heat on medium high. Sauté onions and garlic in the oil. Heat up the grill and lay the shrimp on the grill. Cook the shrimp for about three minutes on each side (until pink). Add thyme, Emeril’s Essence, garlic salt, and pepper to the garlic and onions, once the onions are clear. Let the spices cook in for about three minutes. Flip over the shrimp. Deglaze the pan with wine. Let the wine cook in for about five minutes. Add the lemon juice and butter and let it melt into the sauce. One minute before you are going to pour the sauce over the shrimp, add the parsley. Place the rice on the plate, top with shrimp and load it all up with the sauce.