Maine Shrimp in the Kitchen


The best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday was to head over to Marlow and Daughters, where a pickup truck parked on the curb dispensed frozen bags of Maine sweet shrimp, and also sold scallops, lobsters, and crabs. The shrimp shares are a part of Port Clyde Fresh Catch’s Community-Supported Fishery, a group of 12 fishermen from Port Clyde, Maine, who banded together to create a shrimp subscription service similar to a CSA. (Background here.)

In the kitchen, those crustaceans revealed themselves to be sweeter, more flavorful and delicate than any other.

When Nancy Harmon Jenkins lauded Port Clyde Fresh Catch in the Washington Post, she suggested that the shrimp can be eaten raw, just barely cured in some citrus juice. Opening a bag of the fuchsia-colored shrimp, it was clear that Jenkins was right — the crustaceans smelled just barely of the sea. Pop one in your mouth, and marvel at the fact that shrimp flesh can be so creamy and preternaturally sweet, with that mild, briny minerality that characterizes excellent shellfish.

You can eat the shrimp raw, drizzled with olive oil, coarse salt, and a squeeze of lemon; or sizzled for a bare 30 seconds in olive oil, or simply blanched and shocked. Just don’t overcook them, which will turn them into shrimp pate.

You might also try out this risotto, topped with Port Clyde’s scallops. Serve the dish immediately after adding the shrimp, or they will go mushy in the pot’s residual heat.

Sweet Shrimp Risotto with Seared Scallops and Meyer Lemon

Yield: Serves 4

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
kosher salt
6 cups shrimp or seafood stock
2 cups arborio rice
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 pound (about 8) sea scallops
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 pound Maine sweet shrimp

In a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Stir in the onion, and cook about 5 minutes, until translucent. Meanwhile, in a smaller saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer and keep warm.

Add the garlic to the onion, and cook two minutes more, stirring. Season generously with salt. Pour in the arborio rice, and stir well so that each grain of rice is coated with the butter-olive oil mixture. Increase heat to medium-high, add the wine, and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the pan is almost dry. Add a ladle-full of the hot stock (about a cup) to the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed the stock. Repeat the process with the remaining stock, adding 1 cup at a time and stirring constantly until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy and loose. Turn off the heat.

Pat the scallops dry and season them with salt. In a saute pan, warm the remaining tablespoon olive oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the scallops to the pan, and allow them to cook for a minute or two without disturbing them, in order to develop a deep sear. Turn each scallop and cook 30 seconds more. Remove them from the pan immediately and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the Meyer lemon juice to the risotto, and stir until butter has melted. Add the raw shrimp, and stir. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. Immediately spoon the risotto into serving bowls, top each bowl with about 2 scallops, and serve.

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