Kitchen challenges are the newest spectator sport and I got thrown in to the gladiator pit recently by my sister. She decided that for her birthday she wanted to pit two of her favorite people against one another in her very own Iron Chef style throwdown. Never shirking from competition, her husband, Shane, and I willing accepted the challenge of making two dishes each with the key ingredient, shrimp.
Shane and I often cook together during Sunday night dinners, and we have very different cooking styles which can be a little funny to watch – I’m a list maker; he likes to wing it. We decided that I would buy the shrimp from San Miguel Seafood at the Downtown Austin Farmers Market and then we’d buy our other ingredients separately so that our dishes were a secret.
I wanted my recipes to be locally sourced to show off to my sister’s friends what I could create with my weekly farmers market and CSA goodies. But what would I pair with the shrimp?
Eureka! I had the perfect ingredients for a Shrimp & Grapefruit Ceviche and Shrimp & Grits.
I only had to supplement with four items from the grocery store: cilantro (I had a little bit in my garden, but not enough to garnish all the ceviche), jalapenos, grits and a bell pepper. I was pretty pleased with myself for coming up with two dishes that only needed a few non-local ingredients.
The day of the party, we prepped like crazy. I shelled and deveined all the shrimp. We chopped and sauteed, juiced and peeled. Rarely, has that kitchen seen such intense focus and concentration.
Shane made shrimp and lobster stuffed mushroom caps and a shrimp stuffed chile relleno. He also made some fried shrimp as a non-official entry. The ceviche and shrimp and grits were big hits. My sister’s friends were amazed that I was able to make such great dishes from almost all local ingredients.
A few notes about the prep work: I don’t like to waste things and try to use what you might normally consider waste. When you peel the shrimp, save the shells in a freezer bag. You can use them for making a seafood broth for paella, risotto or soups. Also, you can save the grapefruit peels and make candied grapefruit.
1 pound shrimp
5 key limes or 2 regular limes, juiced
1/2 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2 avocados, peeled, seeded and diced
3 tbsps of chopped cilantro
Peel and devein the shrimp. Chop it into bite sized pieces and then set it aside.
Juice two of the grapefruits and set the juice aside. Cut the other two grapefruits in half. Carefully separate the fruit from the pith and peel with a sharp knife. Scoop each grapefruit slice into a bowl and set aside.
Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerate to marinate for one hour.
Serve with tostada chips.
Note: You can make the ceviche with raw shrimp, but if you or your guests don’t care for raw fish, then boil the shrimp for a few minutes before you make the ceviche. Cook them until they are just pink and be careful to not over cook them. You don’t want them to get mealy in the citrus juice. Only marinate the cooked shrimp for 30 minutes.