Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Carolina Shrimp Burgers

Last week, Whole Foods ran a special on fresh shrimp -- fairly large, sweetly plump specimens for $7.99 per pound. I dispatched Graham with my credit card and directed him to arrive early to snag about three pounds.

We sauteed about half the bounty that night with tender green beans in a house-style piccata sauce that employs variable amounts of capers, butter, white wine and my all-time favorite condiment, Gulden’s Zesty Honey Mustard. Sure, we pass the Grey Poupon now and then, but this golden stuff is too good to limit to the occasional ham sandwich.

The whole thing took about the same time to prepare as a pot of couscous steamed in vegetable stock. It was fabulous, and proof that really fresh seafood can be prepared simply and quickly -- with a fairly fancy results -- for a minimal amount of money and effort.

I planned to save the other half to make shrimp burgers the next day, but Olive’s culinary curiosity exerted itself. Turns outs that about a cup’s worth of raw shrimp – consumed standup style like chic countertop dining in a nice tapas restaurant – is the simplest preparation of all.

The remaining shrimp, perhaps just more than a pound, was transformed into sweet, crispy sandwiches for lunch. I had planned to use fresh bread crumbs but my bread of choice had gone stale and resisted my Cuisinart’s mighty effort to slash the chunks into feathery bits. Instead, I used about a half-cup of moist leftover couscous, but use a similar amount of whatever you’ve got on hand should work.

Makes about 5

1-1¼  lbs. fresh shrimp, peeled½ cup cooked couscous
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
½ small jalapeno, diced (or more, to taste)
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 egg white
2-3 tbps. canola oil
Soft potato rolls
Tartar sauce

Place first seven ingredients in work bowl of food processor. Pulse-chop into coarse blend; shrimp should still be chunky and not ground into a gummy paste. Use ice cream scoop to measure about 5 balls of shrimp mix. Set on a plate and chill in refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

Pour oil into nonstick skillet and warm over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmery, add shrimp mix, flattening lightly to burger shape and size. Cook undisturbed about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Turn carefully and finish cooking.

Serve on toasted potato rolls with a generous smear of tartar sauce.

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