I failed miserably at finding my bottle of vermouth. The one I keep in the fridge. I can’t remember using all of it. Maybe not remembering what happened to it should be a hint… I had to go for the next thing I could find in there. A nice bottle of Pernod… I say nice because it is actually quite nice. Have you seen this stuff? Shake it up. Hold it up against the sun and all this awesome glitter stuff swirling inside it will have you hypnotized for “an ocean of time” … Bram Stoker Dracula and absinth reference all at once, huh!?. The taste isn’t my favorite though. Actually I hate drinking it. In cooking, the story is a bit different. A lot different. There’s nothing original about using pernod and seafood in cooking, but it’s definitely not all that common either. It works fantastically well in my opinion. Specially if paired with an acidic component and a bold flavor like that of shrimp… not to mention my good ole friend. Garlic.
The recipe is quite simple. I love cooking shrimp. It’s the easiest thing in the world. Cooking shrimps that chews like rubber is also the easiest thing in the world. There is a fine line between the perfectly cooked shrimp and the disastrous rubbery one. I cook mine in a really hot skillet and I do it as quickly as possible. They really take no time. About 2-4 minutes tops. Any longer, and the shrimps will go… well, rubbery. They can also be cooked very gently. If you’re not looking for any browning on them, then say you’re making risotto, they could be added at the very end of the cooking, stirred in, and allowed to be cooked by the rice. Turn off the stove. The carry over heat in the rice should be able to take care of business. They really don’t require a lot of heat to cook. Around 135°F (57°C) for a few minutes that’s all it takes. We could have done that for this recipe. Pasta, rice.. etc. All that really matters is hitting the proper cooking temperature. But I wanted some browning on my shrimp. Hot skillet it is.
Ingredients (serves 2 people):
300g Linguine pasta
1 1/2 Tbsp of kosher salt per quart of water.
500g Shrimp shelled and deveined. (reserve shells and heads for velouté)
1/2 Lime. Fresh. Juice + Zest
4 big garlic cloves. Finely sliced.
Splash of Pernod Ricard.
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
Reserved shells and heads from the shrimp.
10g dried anchovies or about 3 tbs of anchovy paste.
10g tomato paste
30g unsalted butter
enough water to cover the shells.
The shrimp velouté. The highlight of this recipe actually. It is really simple as well. Boil the shrimp shells and heads, also the dry anchovies, in a sauce pan for about 30 mins. Strain and return the liquid to the saucepan. Add the tomato paste and reduce until syrupy. Remove form the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the butter and melt while stirring. Strain if you are super picky. I usually do, but didn’t this time. I’d recommend to strain the sauce for extra silkiness.
The shrimp ragu. This is gonna be quick. Heat up a skillet with some oil, I used olive oil in this case. When the oil is very hot but not smoking add the shrimp. Don’t mess with them for about a minute. Then toss and allow to cook on the other side for about the same time. Add the pernod and the garlic. Allow to reduce for about 2 minutes. I use a large skillet to speed up reduction of any liquid. You could also flambé it. Up to you. I chose not too. I don’t think it adds anything to the final result but it looks mega cool. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to rest while you work on your pasta.
The pasta. No mystery here. Just cook in salty boiling water until al dente. Strain and and mix with the shrimp ragu.
Plating. Add a serving of shrimp pasta to a plate and drizzle the velouté over it and around it. Garnish with basil and chives. Done. I told you it was gonna be easy!