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Shrimp a la Bittman

July  2, 2010

Shrimp a la Bittman

- Amanda

A few months ago I wrote about how I like to poach shrimp (and other fish and shellfish) in olive oil. And I still do! But I also like to cook shrimp using a method I learned from Mark Bittman. He slathers shrimp in a loose green sauce and roasts them at 500 degrees (I do 450). The shrimp emerge, unscathed by the heat -- cooked through quickly enough that they remain delicate and plump, with a juicy snap.

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I've made them his way with a green sauce, and also coated with a coriander, garlic and lime paste. More recently, I pared down the recipe even more, giving the shrimp a slick of oil, and lemon and lime zest, showering them with the citrus juices at the table. If you've got great shrimp and, say, some arugula or mizuna from the market, you have a good dinner ready for the making.

Shrimp a la Bittman

Serves 4

  • 2 pounds medium or large shrimp, shelled and cleaned
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. If you're thinking ahead, earlier in the day, combine the zests with the olive oil -- if you're like me and doing this last minute, toss the shrimp with the zests and olive oil. Season with salt. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet.

2. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top of the shrimp and place in the oven. Roast until the shrimp is just cooked through and still bouncy to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Remove the shrimp from the oven, douse with lemon and lime juice and pour into a serving bowl. Eating with your fingers is allowed in my house.

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mariaraynal July 6, 2010
I adore roasted shrimp and the lemon/lime combination. Ina has a few great variations of roasted shrimp, too.
Cucina N. July 5, 2010
Summer in south Texas - too hot to turn on the oven. I have been adapting my roasting recipes to the grill - has anyone tried shrimp in green sauce, "roasted" in a pan on the grill? Any tips for grilling shrimp so they don't dry out or overcook?
wodtke July 4, 2010
Out minimalizing the Minimalist. Well done.
Amanda H. July 4, 2010
alixe July 4, 2010
Green sauce recipe please?

Hi Amanda, Alix Earle

Amanda H. July 4, 2010
Hi Alix! Great to see you here. The green sauce can be found here (you'll need to copy and paste it into a new window because we don't have auto-links yet): http://events.nytimes.com/recipes/8085/2003/03/05/Shrimp-In-Green-Sauce/recipe.html?scp=2&sq=shrimp%20green%20sauce%20bittman&st=cse
PhoebeLapine July 4, 2010
This sounds wonderful. I wish I had seen this last night--I made Angel Hair with Shrimp and a 3 Herb Dressing. Would have been even more flavorful with the three herbs and lemon zest baked right into the shrimp!
Amanda H. July 4, 2010
Next time!
sygyzy July 2, 2010
I wonder how high dry heat affects (previously) frozen shrimp.
Amanda H. July 4, 2010
If they were previously frozen, I'd poach them in oil (see the link above).
amysarah July 5, 2010
In the NYC area, virtually all shrimp sold in the supermarket - or even good fish stores - have been previously frozen. Sometimes you'll see a sign that says, e.g., 'Fresh/Never Frozen Gulf (or Maine) Shrimp' for a premium price (though, given the current disaster, you'll not likely see Gulf ones for a while) - but other than that, it's pretty much all been flash frozen wherever caught - mostly South/Central America, Mexico, etc. - to prevent extremely rapid spoilage, then defrosted to display in the 'fresh fish' counter. It can still be excellent quality and is used as such in many high-end restaurants. (Actually, I first learned this from a pretty hoity-toity chef ;-)

Anyway, a number of years ago I was given a copy of Barbara Kafka's book, Roasting and went on a roasting bender, including shrimp. Still do them that way sometimes - she also does virtually everything at 500 degrees, which is too scary, so I tend to stick to 450 too - but as Amanda says, shrimp come out snappy and perfect and juicy. And I've used regular shrimp (i.e., bought 'fresh,' but I assume previously frozen) with no problems. Obviously this may not be the case if you purchase them still frozen and they sit in the freezer drying out for an extended period.
johnf July 2, 2010
interesting. never would have thought of this.
Question: I only use zest from organic citrus, because I have been told the porous nature of the skin on citrus keep all the pesticides in. I never hear anyone talk about it...shouldn't they?
Amanda H. July 4, 2010
I've heard this but have never read anything about it -- seems like a sensible practice. Thanks for pointing it out.