Sizzling Spanish Garlic Prawns – A Mother’s Day Appetizer

Gambas Al Ajillo

Gambas Al Ajillo – Tapas Style Sizzling Shrimp, Serves 3

Tender, juicy, garlicy shrimp and toasty bread for dipping…seriously, does it get better than that?

Gambas Al Ajillo  (Sizzling Garlic Prawns) is a staple dish in Spanish tapas bars, and for good reason. Typically served with a crisp, white wine, there are two classic preparation of this tapa, depending on whether you prefer to peel the prawns before cooking, I prefer NOT to peel, or remove the heads them first, as there’s so much flavor in the head and shells, and I want that rich shrimpiness infused into the olive oil.

Traditionally cooked and served in a terracotta dish, if you don’t have one (I don’t) use a 10” cast-iron skillet, and leave the heads and shells on. Serve sizzling in the pan, on a trivet (with a warning), as you want the oil to stay hot for dipping.

  •     12 xlg raw prawns, butterflied
  •     3 Tbs. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  •     1 tsp. chili flakes (opt)
  •     2 tsp. smoked paprika
  •     olive oil
  •     6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  •     ¼ cup dry sherry

Pour oil into you cast-iron skillet, and heat to medium-low, add the garlic, and cook to infuse the oil, for 8-10 minutes. Remove garlic from oil, and raise the heat to medium-high.

Butterlying prawns

To butterfly the prawns simply slit the prawns length-ways (but not all the way through) and remove the vein (stomach). Rinse cavity in cold water, pat dry, and toss prawns with sherry and spices. Rub the prawns to get the spices until well coated, and under the shells.

Add prawns to oil (oil should be about half the depth of the prawns).

Cook prawns in oil for 5 – 8 minutes, depending on the size of the dish or dishes, or until pink and sizzling, add back the sweated garlic, and lemon wedges for the last minute (don’t let the garlic brown).

Remove the pan from the heat.

Sprinkle with the parsley and green onion, and serve with crusty bread, lemon wedges, and toothpicks

FYI…

What’s the difference between a shrimp and a prawn?

Short answer: Not much.

sf_shrmpw07eThe flavors of shrimp and prawns are almost indistinguishable, especially once cooked with other flavors.

If you just have to know, you’ll need to get your shrimp/prawns whole and intact.

Claws at the end of two legs means shrimp, three means prawn. Seriously.

In most parts of the world, especially in the US, “prawn” and “shrimp” are interchangeable terms. Prawns are usually larger, and from fresh water, and shrimp a bit smaller, and from salt water. Both come in a huge variety of sizes and shapes.


The Home Chef: Transforming the American KitchenWe are entering the age of the “Home Chef”, a title that’s available to nearly everyone, regardless of age, or financial standing.

That’s what this book is about…because something amazing has begun to happen in the last two decades, something that has never before happened in the history of cooking…instead of growing wider, the gap between the home cook and the professional chef has actually begun to narrow, and continues to narrow exponentially with each passing year.

The time when these specialized skills were limited to those who could afford the cost and time required for culinary school are quickly passing into history.

The time when the sole requirement to elevate your cooking skills to this level…passion…is emerging.

It’s an amazing time to become a Home Chef…and if you have that passion, I’ll show you how.

Welcome!

Chef Perry P. Perkins

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National Oyster Day AND #baconweek? Oh, yes…

Angels on Horseback recipe

Today is #baconweek AND National Oyster Day!

This is the one we’ve been waiting for, people…the perfect storm!

In honor of this momentous occasion, here’s a freebie from “Bacon: A Home Chef’s Guide”, that also happens to be my all-time favorite appetizer!

angels on horseback recipe

Angels on Horseback (Bacon-Wrapped Oysters)

Angels on horseback, or oysters wrapped in bacon, is a classic oyster dish that is very common on the East Coast. and is often seen as a wedding appetizer on Long Island in New York.

The recipe was first published in 1888, in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The dish is to be credited to Urbain Dubois, the chef of the German emperor.

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By the In the 1930s, Angels on Horseback had become a popular picnic goody, and was ubiquitous on Sunday brunch menus.

In the 1960’s, a popular variation on this dish became to serve the oyster raw, wrapped in fried bacon (delicious, but some folks have texture issues with this one), as well as adding a liberal dose of hot red pepper sauce, before broiling…known as “Angels in Hell.” Seriously, I don’t make this stuff up!

Angels on Horseback where included in the 1990’s bestseller, “1001 Foods to Die For.” (Great book, btw!)

With only three ingredients in the prep list – bacon, oysters, cayenne pepper, and a squirt of lime juice, sprinkled with parsley – this dish couldn’t be easier to prepare.

P1120811This is how God wants you to eat his oysters…

  • 2 dozen fresh small oysters (shucked) 
  • Cayenne pepper powder
  • 12 strips thin sliced, apple-wood smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 limes

Slice bacon strips in half. Be sure to use thin-cut bacon.

Season each oyster with a light pinch of cayenne pepper.

Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each oyster and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a baking dish. (Don’t use a rack – you want the fat to pool, so it’s pulled into the oysters!)

angels on horseback

Cook the bacon-wrapped oysters under the broiler until they’re crispy, about 5-6 minutes.

Flip, and return to the broiler to crisp the other side (another 2-4 minutes). Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lime wedges.

Angels on Horseback are traditionally served on buttered toast points.

BTW – These make an AMAZING filling for an Oyster Po’ Boy sandwich!

#baconweek and National Oyster Day…it may not happen again in our lifetime, my friends…make the most of it!

😉

~Chef Perry


Each Home Chef Guidebook delves more deeply into the professional quality recipes and techniques of specific cooking styles and cuisines.

Bacon A Home Chef's GuideThis one is all about BACON!

Bacon is the candy-apple red hot-rod of the food world. We want it, but we also fear it a little, which makes us want it even more…

Each year in the U.S. more than 1.7 billion lbs. of bacon are consumed – equivalent to the weight of 8 1/2 Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

65% of Americans would support bacon as their “national food” and more than half of us claim that we would rather have bacon than sex.

Bacon is kinda a big deal.

Let’s learn about bacon, the types of bacon out there, the best chef techniques for cooking it, and the most delicious recipes available for God’s most perfect meat!

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Chef Perry’s Bacon Salmon Chowder

This recipe is an old favorite, my own riff on my Dad’s signature clam chowder, using our fresh Pacific Northwest Salmon.

Bacon Salmon Chowder

BACON SALMON CHOWDER

Ingredients:

STOCK
2 lbs. salmon spine, head, and tail
1 gallon fresh water
1/4 cup fine sea salt
2 Bay leaves
4 cups (total) chopped carrots, shallots, & celery (optional)

CHOWDER
2lbs (2) fresh salmon steaks, cut 4in thick
2 extra-large russet potatoes
1/4 cup sweet cream butter
4 cups chopped carrots, sweet onions, & celery
1lb thick bacon (cooked and chopped)
Fine sea salt
1/4 cup AP flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 Tbs. coarse black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. Mexican chili powder

TOPPINGS
1 (8oz) bag large Garlic-Butter Croutons
Coarse black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped

FOR THE STOCK:

Bring a gallon of water to a low simmer, in a large stock pot. Add about a Tbs. of sea salt, then the salmon head, spine, and tail.

Simmer, uncovered, for 4-6 hours. You can do this in the morning, or even the day before.

(I like to add some carrots, celery, and shallots, if I’m making more stock than I need for this recipe.)

Once the stock has cooked, scoop out the big pieces with a slotted spoon, discard, and then strain the solids. Then do a second straining, through cheesecloth, to get a clean stock.

Once your stock is strained, wipe the pot clean, set in on a back burner over low heat, and return the stock to it. Keep it warm.

FOR THE CHOWDER:

Peel russet potatoes, and slice them into large cubes, set aside in a bowl, covered in cold water.

Melt butter in a large frying pan, and sauté the chopped celery and onions, over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. You just want them with a little caramelization on the outsides, but still crunchy.

Add the cooked, chopped bacon, and stir it in with the veggies. Let this cook a few more minutes, until the bacon has rendered and is heated through. Remove the bacon and veggies from the pan, reserving as much of the butter and bacon drippings as possible.

Once all of the solids are moved from the pan, raise the heat to medium-high. You can add a little oil here, if needed.

Season both sides of the salmon steaks with fine sea salt.

Fry the salmon until it’s nicely browned, then flip and do the same to the other side. The salmon is still basically raw at this point, but it’ll finish cooking in the stock. This browning is what really adds the flavor to your chowder.

While your browning the salmon, it’s a good time to start heating up the stock, on medium heat. Add the potatoes, then bring the stock to a high simmer.

When the salmon has brown on both sides, move it to the stock pot, on top of the potatoes, and reduce the heat to a low simmer.

Add some butter to the frying pan, if needed, to reach about 1/4 cup of fat in the pan.

Add 1/4 of flour to the fat in the frying pan. Mix and keep it moving until your roux becomes golden brown, and starts to smell nutty.

Once your roux in golden (which means the flour has been cooked), it’s time to start adding the salmon stock, a half a cup at a time. At first, your roux is going to sizzle and seize up into a paste. DON’T PANIC! This is what it’s supposed to do.

Keep adding hot stock, and stirring until smooth, then adding more stock, etc., etc., until you reach the consistency of a thin gravy. Somewhere along here, you’ll want to trade in you spoon for a whisk. Keep whisking, until it’s smooth, with a silky looking finish.

Remove the potatoes and salmon from the stock, and add in your thinned roux, whisking until smooth.

Set the stockpot aside, on low heat, UNCOVERED.

Break the salmon steaks into large chunks. You can go smaller, or even shred it, if you prefer, but I like it like this. Set aside.

Add two cups of WARMED whole milk to the broth, and whisk it in.

Next, add in the salmon chunks.  Carefully add the cooked potatoes, celery, onions, and bacon into the pot, and stir gently, just enough to combine everything.

After tasting our chowder, add a little more sea salt, if needed.

Add black pepper, to taste, and then the Mexican Chili Powder. (If you can’t find the Mexican kind, regular chili powder works, too.) Stir those lovely seasonings into your chowder!

Allow the chowder to rest for about a half an hour, to let the flavors, and then portion it into bowls for serving.

Add some garlic butter croutons on top, then a sprinkle of coarse black pepper (to taste). Finally add a sprinkle of Italian parsley, to give the dish a little color.

And there you have it! Chef Perry’s soon to be famous (hopefully!) Bacon Salmon Chowder.

Guaranteed to warm all the down to those frozen toes!

Serve immediately.

For more delicious, simple, and (mostly) healthy Home Chef recipes, tips, and kitchen tricks, pick up my latest “next level” cookbook, “BACON!: A Home Chef’s Guide” at http://www.perryperkinsbooks.com

And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you don’t miss a dish!

Let’s Cook!

~Chef Perry

Chef Perry’s Shrimp Po’boy

Chef Perry's Shrimp Po'Boy Sandwich

Justin Kennedy, head chef and general manager of Parkway Bakery & Tavern, a New Orleans staple that’s been serving po’boys for almost 90 years. According to Kennedy, the “poor boy” sandwich was created in 1929 during the Great Depression.

95130fab705a7ffdf23c57d5200a2f93--shrimp-po-boy-po-boy“The street car conductors were not getting paid, so they went on strike,” Kennedy explains. “Benny and Clovis Martin, who were former conductors themselves, had a grocery and coffee stand. They put the word out, if a hungry striker in need came by their shop, they would feed that poor boy.”

Though the first po’boy was made with fried potatoes, roast beef and gravy on French bread, the sandwich has evolved to include many fillings, including the popular shrimp version.

In our recipe, we marinate shrimp in hot sauce and buttermilk before breading them in a spiced cornmeal mixture and frying them until crisp.

Shrimp Po'Boy

Then we layer the shrimp on a classic French roll with hot sauce-laden mayo, lettuce, tomato and sliced cornichons. This is a sandwich that requires two hands and your full attention (see the recipe).

Po'boy Bread“Po’boy bread is light and airy, never too dense inside, with a thin, crisp crust. This makes it easy for the star of the po’boy to be the filling, with the bread playing a beautiful supporting role,” Lagasse explains.

The one thing to keep in mind is how fast the bread goes stale. You’re going to want to buy your bread the same day you’re making your sandwiches to ensure it maintains its light and fluffy interior.

The Recipe

1lb deep fried (or baked) tiny breaded shrimp
¼ cup Crystal hot sauce, divided
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
Two 10-inch po’boy rolls or French hero rolls, halved lengthwise
1 beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons thinly sliced cornichons, for garnish

Directions

Whisk together ½ tablespoon of salt with cayenne, oregano, thyme, garlic powder and pepper, and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce with the mayonnaise, add spices, and mix until smooth.

Spread the mayonnaise mixture on both halves of the rolls. On the bottom halves, divide the fried shrimp, top with the sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and sliced cornichons.

Affix the top halves, then slice in half and serve.

Home Chef Note: For an equally awesome Po’ Boy, replace the shrimp with battered, deep friend oysters (extra-small.)

Oyster Po'Boy Sandwich

Thai Red Fish Curry

Frugal Red Fish Curry recipe

The Home Chef's Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking(Excerpt from “The Home Chef’s Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking” Available October 15, 2017. This is the first in a series of guidebooks to delve deeper into specific topics discussed in, “The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen” – available on Amazon.)

Regarding Curry…

“Curry” can be a confusing term. It’s the name of an entire family of Indian, and Indian-influenced, dishes, but it’s also the name of spice blends within those dishes, and those blend of spices are different from region to region, and, typically, house to house.

Instead of a specific recipe, with set ingredients, think of it as a term like “sauce”, for which there can be uncountable varieties (and my mom’s is always better than your mom’s…)

Curries in Thailand (usually a mix of curry spice paste, coconut milk or water, meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, and herbs) mainly differ from the curries in Indian cuisine in their use of fresh ingredients such as herbs and aromatic leaves, instead of a mix of dried, and then toasted and ground, spices.

The dry, powdery stuff we buy in the jars is a lot like kissing your sister…similar…but not quite the same thing.

My personal favorite Indian blend (when not toasting and grinding it fresh) is the “Bombay Curry” from my beloved Market Spice, in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

Curries (the dishes) are a great way to add a touch of the exotic to a frugal dinner, while using up leftover meats and veggies, at the same time.

Think about it…both India and Thailand are home to some of the poorest people (and the best food) on the planet.

Once again, it’s less about what you’ve got, than what you can do with it.

Thai Red Fish Curry

1lb tilapia
1 knob of ginger, peeled
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
Juice of half a lime
2-3 fresh red chilies
1 Tbs tomato puree
1 onion, very finely chopped
Oil
2 Tbs fish sauce
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup water
A generous pinch of salt
Cilantro to garnish

To make the curry paste blend together the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime juice, chilies, tomato puree and a little oil.

Heat a little more oil in a large saucepan and begin to fry the onions. After 5 minutes add the paste and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Tip in the coconut milk and water and continue to cook to allow the flavors to infuse, and the sauce to reduce a bit.

Season the sauce to taste before adding the fish in large, skinless chunks. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the fish is completely done.

At this point one can serve the dish, though if the sauce is a little thin one may opt to remove the fish from the sauce and turn the heat up for a little while.

Ensure it is served piping hot, sticky rice, mango slices, and fresh cilantro are optional.

Poisson Meunière

Julia Child“It arrived whole: a large, flat Dover sole that was perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top. I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth, took a bite, and chewed slowly. The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter. I chewed slowly and swallowed. It was a morsel of perfection. In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me.
I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of table, and of life, are infinite–toujours bon appétit!”
~ Julia Child
For my friend, Duane…

IMG_7789Poisson Meunière

2 8-oz skinless fish fillets (sole, cod, halibut, tilapia)      
3 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour                        
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper                    
1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil            
1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley        
1 lemon, in 8 wedges
1/2 cup fresh peas, steamed, shocked in cold water
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Black rice, cooked with a little salt

Add the butter to a heavy saucepan and cook on medium heat until the butter melts, the foam starts to subside, brown flecks appear and the butter just starts to brown. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe bowl. It will continue to darken once you remove from heat. It should smelly nutty.

If it smells burned, you will have to start over (sorry!)

Set butter aside, and keep warm.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. In another small bowl, add the milk. Heat a heavy skillet on high heat (no oil) for four minutes.

Meanwhile, dip the fish fillets into the milk and then into the flour, tapping off any excess. Add the oil to the skillet, tilting the skillet to coat the bottom. Place the fish in the skillet — carefully, as the oil may splatter. Cook for six minutes undisturbed on high heat.

With a spatula, turn the fish over and, if the pan looks dry, add another tablespoon of oil.

Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, give or take a minute depending on the thickness of your fillet. Plate over hot black rice

Drizzle the lemon juice on top of the fish followed by a scattering of peas, parsley, and a generous drizzling of brown butter.  

Enjoy immediately, serving with more lemon wedges at the table if desired.

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We served this dish at on of our “My Kitchen Outreach” Pop-Up Dinners, and it was a huge hit, especially with my friend Duane, who is, frankly, a little obsessed with it. 😉

The cookbook for that dinner, “Paris”, is available in the bookstore.

Enjoy!

~Chef Perry