TABASCO SHRIMP FOR PRESIDENT'S DAY
Today I am highlighting an "American" product.
The world famous TABASCO Sauce of Avery Island, La. Of course, as Americans have become a more
food-savvy nation, most of us have tried hot sauces from all over the world, from mild to ridiculous degrees
of scoville units which do nothing really than sear off the top 10 layers of your tongue and esophagus.
Let me be clear here, I'm not rating hot sauces in this post, like opinions, everyone has one. I am going
to speak a little about the one that is most popular even in a scarlet red sea of vinegared fermented
pepper sauces, and that my blog-reading friends is Tabasco.
This highly vinegared and spiced sauce is "American" (note the quotations) in every way. The man
who invented it, Edmund McIlhenny, was a native of Maryland, served in the Rough Riders Regiment of
President (see, there is my President's Day tie-in...I've accomplished something today!) Teddy Roosevelt,
and moved to Louisiana. Settling on Avery Island, he planted the seeds of this hot chile pepper which
came from Central America or Mexico (either or, it's on the American continent), and gave the sauce
the name of TABASCO. In Mexican Indian terms, (again, from the Americas) the name means "place
of the coral and/or oyster shell". Louisiana's oysters were the perfect foil for this sauce which adds
a lift to everything seafood-y, meats, and lots of other foods. It's not just for Cajun or Creole. In fact, it's
part of my foundation for Macaroni and Cheese, along with dry mustard and a dash of Worchestershire.
I know there are many chefs and cooks out there who eschew the use of any commercially prepared
seasonings, but TABASCO I would think, even the top of the Cheflebrity Food Chain would agree that it
is part of every kitchen pantry. Please, keep your hate mail to a minimum if you are a Frank's, or any
other hot sauce fanatic. I like them all, lol...except the stupidly hot ones. (You all know about my love
affair with Sriracha, 'nuff said). On a hot sauce tangent, if you ever get to try the hot sauces of Belize,
they are delicious! Ok, I'm falling off the Tabasco wagon here...let me climb back on.
For this American holiday we are celebrating, I give you a simple way to prepare shrimp...make them
any fresh small shrimp you can find, the smaller the better (remember those one's at the old Beefsteak
Charlies? mmmm Shrimp mmmm Shrimp??, that size). I would say a bag of 26-30 (that's 26-30 shrimp
per lb.) will be perfect.
Now I made this with the Pink Shrimp of Maine, which are small and have a nice soft
shell. These are highly seasonal, you may find them right now, but chances are they
have run their course unless you are infact in Maine. Devein 2lb. of 26-30 shrimp
and rinse in icy cold water, then pat dry. In a large deep pan, saute' 1 stick (yes, put your
fear of butter away, tomorrow hit the treadmill and back to non-fat yoghurt, but for this recipe
to work, it's butter) of butter, 1 small finely minced onion. Let this soften, cook for about
5-7 minutes, on medium, do not let the butter burn. Now add a tbs. of vegetable oil, and
3 minced cloves of garlic. When you smell the garlic, it happens quick, add a good squeeze
of the juice of 1 lemon and 1 tsp. of Tabasco. Stir then add the shrimp and let this saute/
steam for about 5 minutes...Keep stirring. Now you are done.
Serve this with lemon slices, wedges, garnish with 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
and a sprinkling of sea salt. Lots of bottles of tabasco on the side. Resist your temptation to peel the shrimp before
cooking. The fun, the adventure, the flavor of this dish is all because your hands are your utensils.
Finger lickin' good was really meant for this! As an accompaniment, serve a toasted rice and
vermicelli pilaf, or any mildly seasoned rice. The delicate shrimpy flavor needs only what you've
seasoned them with...let the rice just soak up any additional juices!!
For those of you in America, HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY...for those of you around the world, enjoy
this Monday and try a recipe which comes from the U.S.A.