3 Shrimp Dishes—and Wines—That Taste Like You're Vacationing in Portugal


3 Shrimp Dishes—and Wines—That Taste Like You're Vacationing in Portugal

March 30, 2017

Our Test Kitchen Chef Josh has been dreaming of Portugal as spring gears up in New York, so when we partnered with Vinho Verde to pair up some wine with his recipes, he decided to showcase some of the country's favorite seafood: shrimp!

I’ve been thinking of Portugal in the kitchen recently, and not just because everyone seems to be Instagramming from Lisbon lately: The country's food and wine, plus the slower pace of life and meals in Europe, is inspiring me to get in a warmer state of mind after a New York winter. And since the people of Portugal eat a lot of seafood—according to a 2014 report, they’re third in the world when it comes to seafood consumption—and I can’t get over there just yet, I wanted to honor the culinary spirit of the country by showcasing shrimp, one of its signature ingredients, three different ways this spring: Grilled, sautéed, and stewed.

Additionally, because there is such a strong tradition of wine in Portugal and the Vinho Verde region is the biggest wine producing region in the country, I paired these dishes with three different wines from that area. (Also because, well, it’s ideal to drink from the same land from which you eat.)

Often times, the simplest preparations tend to be the most satisfying ones as well. Portuguese food will often be made with high quality olive oil and lots of garlic, so I was inspired to marinate shrimp with simple ingredients—olive oil, chili flakes, lemon zest, a nip of sherry vinegar, and microplaned garlic—before laying them down on a hot grill. (Microplaning the garlic, instead of just slicing it, gives it an almost paste-like consistency that leads to added depth of flavor and intensity.)

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The combination of charred, grilled shrimp and chilled rose is a classic. The sweetness of the shrimp matches a bright rose nicely which, when made with Espadeiro grapes, red grapes that are often used in Portuguese rose wines, will be full of flavor yet balanced. Espadeiro is grown inland because it needs a warmer microclimate, in the sub-regions of Ave, Sousa, Amarante and Paiva, and it has complex dry notes, acidity, and a gentle fruity sweetness. It's just what I want to drink when I am enjoying something savory from the grill. (You, too?)

My Shrimp and Chorizo Stew was inspired by the classic combination of these two ingredients, with the rich spiciness of the chorizo naturally complementing the sweet shrimp. Background notes of smoked paprika, fresh thyme, and minced shallot round out the dish, which features a reinforced stock made with shrimp heads and fresh thyme. This may sound like extra work but, to me, cooking is always about a sequence of tiny details, and this stock is the difference between making the dish taste good and truly leaving a lasting impression. Individually, these details might not seem to change things much, but when added together, they are the difference between good and great.

The big flavors of this stew are a perfect match for the full-bodied and lingering complexity of wine made with Alvarinho grapes grown in Portugal's Minho region (also known as Albariño in the Rías Baixas region of Spain). It's smooth, elegant, and bold, with notes of minerality and a gentle acidity.

Piri piri sauce is a staple in Portuguese cuisine, although the bird’s eye chiles used in making it have origins in African cooking (during colonialist times, the Portuguese took these chiles from Africa and brought them to Goa, India). But the underlying flavor of my Piri Piri Shrimp, which has been coated and sautéed in the sauce, come from caramelized onions and red bell peppers. Bird’s eye chiles bring some heat to it, and lemon juice and fresh oregano round out the dish with a complex mix of acidity and herbal notes.

This take on shrimp goes very well with wine made from the Avesso grape, which is similar to Alvarinho and grown in the Baião sub-region. It makes wine that's very bright and citrusy, and cuts nicely through the rich olive oil, and mild spice, in the piri piri sauce. It complements, rather than overshadows, the food—and at the end of the day, that's what you want when pairing wine with any meal. The video above will show you all three dishes in action, and you can pick up the recipes below to have your own Portuguese seafood feast.

Portugal's calling, even if you can't hop the pond for a vacation. We partnered with Vinho Verde to share shrimp recipes from our Test Kitchen that'll pair with wine from three producers: Casal de Ventozela, Quinta de Covela, and Estreia Reserva.

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Josh Cohen

Written by: Josh Cohen

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.

1 Comment

Mike S. April 1, 2017
CORRECTION: The chili pepper plant is a native of Mexico, and was brought to Africa and Asia on Portuguese trading ships called Naos de Trato (pt) Before that, even Indian curry was made hot with black and white pepper. It's incorrect to say the Portuguese brought the chili pepper plant from Africa.
You're welcome!
Mike Souza