Monday, January 11, 2010

Maine Shrimp Parfait, Revisited

I mentioned a while ago that I had never forgotten a shrimp parfait that I had in Falmouth Foreside, Maine.  I don't, however, remember the name of the restaurant, which is now doubtless Mexican or Thai or upscale Downeast anyway. The only other thing I remember about the place was that it served haddock ten or twelve ways. Rather daunting, that.
  What with one thing and another this weekend, I went out looking for a pair of boots and instead came back with Cumberland sausage, salt,  two kinds of preserves, cheese, Twiglets, more cheese, a mince tartlet, beets, and Maine shrimp, none of which will keep my feet warm.  The Maine shrimp did fire my imagination, but it chilled quickly when I realized by just how much I had underbought.  After cooking and peeling, the pound of shrimp I had started with left me with just enough to pile on a rice cake, if I were the sort of person who would do that.  (No complaints, though, at $4.95/lb.)
  And then there were the eggs.  I swear that there were at least two thousand eggs per shrimp.  Each and every shrimp, that is, because all harvested Maine shrimp are female.  They begin their lives as males, then climb the biological ladder to a higher place of existence.  Good for them.
  What I needed was a way to stretch the shrimp, a rich, intense way that didn't involve my having to put my coat back on and walk to the corner.  Could I replicate the shrimp parfait? Hell, yes. Are you going to know the difference?
 The FF shrimp parfait was lovely, layered, creamy pink, and, yes, rich.  I decided against layering, because we don't have parfait glasses, and I don't like to fidget about with food that way anyhow.  It was a pretty thing, nonetheless, and if it wasn't exactly right, it was close enough to bring back memories of a lovely evening in Maine.  That's quite good enough for me.

Bring a largish pot of water to a boil, salt, squeeze in a lemon wedge, then add the wedge to the water.  Add a pound of Maine shrimp.  Count slowly to fifteen, and give them a gentle stir.  Count to fifteen again, and pour them into a colander.  Run cold water over the shrimp to stop them from cooking to mush.Let cool for a couple of minutes.
 Peel, by first pulling off the heads, then removing the rather pliable shell.  When they are all peeled, give them a rinse to get rid of the remaining eggs, which are not all that appealing.  Chill for a while.  (The shrimp, not you.  You've got more work to do.)

Whip half of a half pint of heavy cream until pretty stiff but not hard.  Gently fold in a couple of tablespoons of ketchup, some horseradish, a dash of hot sauce, salt and pepper. The cream will deflate a bit. Fold in the shrimp and spoon into glasses or pudding dishes or whatever tickles your fancy.  Top with a bit of lemon zest.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.