May it Please the Palate

 Put this in your pot and smoke it

I spent an enjoyable evening, organizing recipes into my tattered three-ring binder, with 29 separate tabbed categories (30 if you count “Extra Paper”). Many recipes found me in misty-eyed reminisce, such as the one for “Tea Smoked Shrimp,” which fire-damaged the stove, floor, and destroyed my pot. I wanted to share this recipe with you so you could try it at home.

The fundamental error I made was substituting a stainless steel stock pot for a cast iron or ceramic Dutch oven. I did this, and still do it, whenever I encounter a recipe that calls for a Dutch oven. This is because I do not own a Dutch oven, and never have. Therefore I automatically substitute “dented stock pot in the downstairs pantry” whenever a recipe unnecessarily decrees that I must have a Dutch oven.

“Nonsense,” I huff. Most of the time I get away with it. But not with this Tea Smoked Shrimp recipe, which actually called for a “heavy Dutch oven lined with foil,” and gave directions – or warnings - such as this one:

“Cover the pot tightly; turn the heat to high. The sugar will melt and the pot will start smoking. Keep a kitchen exhaust fan going at all times to clear the smoke.”

After 5-6 minutes of high heat smoking, I lifted my pathetic dented stock pot, uselessly lined with foil, off the stove. The bottom dropped out like a rock. Hot, nearly molten metal sank into my kitchen floor, melting the linoleum like soft butter. Tea smoked shrimp scattered at my feet, emitting not an aroma of oolong tea, but something more like the burning of a small motor.  

I ate one. Chewing thoughtfully, I contemplated the dish that might have been, if only I’d had a Dutch oven.

 

Tea Smoked Shrimp

Detroit Free Press 

Ingredients

Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

1 tsp coarse kosher salt

2 tbsp rice vinegar

30 large shrimp, unpeeled

1/2 cup loose tea, preferably Hu-Kwa, Earl Grey or oolong

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions

Combine the orange zest and juice, salt, and vinegar in a mixing bowl. Add the shrimp and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

To smoke the shrimp, line a heavy Dutch oven with aluminum foil. Sprinkle the tea, sugar, and cayenne pepper on the foil and set a rack over it. Cover the pot tightly and turn the heat to high. The sugar will melt, and the pot will start smoking. (Keep a kitchen exhaust fan going at all times to clear the smoke.) Turn off the heat, lay the shrimp on the rack, cover, and return the heat to high. Smoke the shrimp for 5 or 6 minutes. Do not overcooks or the shrimp will become tough.

Cool the shrimp and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Smoked shrimp will keep about a week refrigerated.

A melted floor keeps much longer, at least until you remodel.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

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