Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cooking as carnage

We live in an age of attractive looking food. We go to the supermarket, pick up things that are prepped for our convenience, and often simply schlep them on a plate after a quick pass through the oven, microwave or skillet. Modern food does not require us to become that involved, or stand face to face with the fact that the thing you are about to consume was a living creature not long ago. Back in great grandma's day, if she wanted to make a chicken, pretty often she would have to kill that chicken, prep it and then cook it. For this reason, after all that work and carnage, she would never simply season it with a box of "Chickenriffic Meal Maker". She would take time to think about what spices would make this project taste best, cook it with care and use every last bit of the leftovers.

Today , we find our chicken dressed ( feathers removed), head removed and in many cases , skin and bones removed. Most of the nourishing parts removed, for your convenience. In order to get that old time, hard core experience, you can visit the seafood counter and select a whole fish, live lobster or these guys:
Behold the whole shrimp ! Shell still on, head attached, legs , antenna, eyes and digestive tract still present. The stuff of horror movies, to be sure. Looking at these makes me marvel at the idea of the very first human deciding that these would be good to eat, and most likely raw at that time of discovery. Working with actual raw shrimp is a little squeamish, but not difficult. Two parts in the preparation will make you go  "eewww !!". First, removal of the head- grab them by the body and head, pull to separate and wipe the red, weird looking, squishy, not grey stuff away. This is  something similar to blood, eggs and other things. Next, pull off the legs and peel the shell, leaving the tail on or not. Take the shells and heads and either toss them or save to make shrimp broth ( freeze if you are not going to use this day). Now for the second horrifying bit- removing the black vein. Let's be honest- it is not a vein. It is the creature's digestive tract, and it is not pleasant to eat. Take the tip of a knife, run it gently along side the black line and lift out the black line. Horror managed ! Now you are ready to cook the shrimp ( they are a quick cook- only till they turn pink which happens in about a minute). For this recipe you definitely want to use the raw shrimp, as the marinate adds so much to the flavor of the final dish. It looks a whole lot better than the above, and tastes just as wonderful !

(Mint Flavored Shrimp Salad)

1 lb raw Shrimp in the shell
1 Stalk of Celery, sliced
1 Spoon of Vinegar
juice of 2 Lemons
½ Cup of Olive Oil
Leaves of Mint
Salt and Pepper

Shell the shrimp and de-vein.
Marinate all the shrimp for 30 minutes in salted water.
Then put them in a pot with boiling salted water and add the vinegar.
Boil until pink- about 2 minutes.
Put in bowl with the chopped celery, salt, pepper, oil and lemon juice.
Keep in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Finally, add the minced parsley and mint leaves.
Serve cold.

See? It did get better !


Jeremy Logsdon said...

You are so much braver than me. I can handle raw shrimp, but I can't handle... field dressing it like a deer. I'm just too much of a wuss.

Well, I could handle preparing it. I just don't think I could eat it after that.

Di said...

For me it is always two factors- I LOVE shrimp, and they look so different cooked than they do raw. I have to admit, I have dressed and then eaten geese, ducks and a pig in my past, so shrimp was not quite so difficult after those !