Monday, January 17, 2011

Shrimp dip with roasted bell pepper

We had the pleasure of cooking for a friend last night we had not seen in months and likely won't see again for many more, given that he now lives in California. He mentioned a longing for North Carolina seafood, so I decided to use some in an appetizer.

I bought about 3/4 pound of plump shrimp and thought about the Lee Brothers' delicious shrimp burgers, which lightly poach shrimp in an Old Bay-ish spice mix then chops them to form tender patties. I also thought of a luscious red bell pepper I'd roasted and peeled that morning.

I was pretty sure this "hmmm" moment would translate to "mmmm," so I started to scan the store for other assorted nibbles. I was briefly tempted by housemade pimento cheese, but while it fairly screamed North Carolina, I set it out of my mind in favor of the healthier option I already picked.

Surprisingly, though, after poaching and then dicing the shrimp in the processor with the roasted pepper, the result look strikingly like pimento cheese (sadly, the photo does not do it justice). Serve chilled with lavash crackers and vegetable crudites.

3/4 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp. Old Bay, or to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
hot sauce, to taste
kosher salt, freshly-ground pepper

Fill a large sauce pan about half way with water, add Old Bay and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and stir. After 2 minutes, or just until pink, turn off heat and leave in broth another 2 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

Chop roasted bell pepper coarsley and place in processor with shrimp; pulse to combine. Add mayonnaise, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Pulse until coarse chopped and well blended. Taste to adjust seasoning -- it wanted more salt than I'd guessed. Refrigerate at least an hour or until ready to serve.

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