The month of May welcomed Louisiana’s shrimp season, a long and robust affair that runs through December. Hard-working coastal shrimpers are in full swing now, throwing on white boots, hitting trawlers and tracking down the character they call Mr. Shrimp. Brown shrimp season comes first, replaced by the hunt for larger white shrimp later in the summer. Louisiana leads the U.S. in shrimp production; last year, shrimpers landed more than 90.5 million pounds. Of all of the state’s fisheries, shrimping is the largest and most commercially valuable.
Shrimp are elegant, festive and fun, and there is no shortage of them on party or restaurant menus. But they’re also an underplayed ingredient in easy, weeknight meals. Sure, you have to peel and devein them, but the time you spend in prep is made up by their speedy cook time. And if they’re fresh, they need few additional flavors. Here’s an easy dish that requires little more than lime and a cast iron skillet.
12 medium to large shrimp, head on
1-2 fresh limes
3 tablespoons total olive or canola oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Remove heads, peel and devein shrimp. Freeze heads for later use in shellfish stock if you like.
Toss peeled shrimp in a bowl with one tablespoon of the olive oil, freshly grated rind from the limes and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the remaining oil to medium high in a cast iron skillet. Add a single layer of the shrimp and sauté until barely pink on the bottom. Quickly flip each with tongs and cook until just pink on the other side. Remove from skillet immediately. Shrimp should cook for not more than about 2-3 minutes total. Finish with a few squirts of lime juice and fresh herbs such as mint, basil or cilantro. Serve over cous cous, crunchy salad greens, cooked pasta or with fajitas. Serves two.
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