Festive Saffron Shrimp with Sake

Festive Saffron Shrimp with Sake Recipe

Shrimp is one of my favorite festive ideas for a dinner party. We hosted one last night and I felt like adding an exotic touch to the menu, so I prepared saffron-flavored jumbo shrimp. The luxurious saffron provides a lingering savory-sweet note enhanced by the sake (Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice).

I love playing with shrimp for a quick dinner menu because they cook very fast. Normally I would flambé the liqueur but it tastes so sweet and mild, I preferred not to. I also added green bell peppers for a nice contrast in texture and balance of color. 

 

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

1-¼ pounds raw jumbo shrimp
½ cup Kosher salt
2 tablespoons palm sugar, freshly grated
2 tablespoons red chili powder
1½ cups sake
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon saffron threads
½ teaspoon salt
1 lime, freshly squeezed
1 green bell pepper, stemmed and coarsely choped
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon curly parsley, for garnish

Directions

For the saffron: In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads into a fine powder. 

Prepping the shrimp:

Remove and discard the head of the shrimp if it's still attached. Carefully shell and de-vein the shrimp using a sharp hook-like paring knife, all the way from the head to the tail so when it's cooked, the shrimp will open up like a butterfly. Make sure to remove the tip of the tail (the shell that covers the tail) as well; this part is very delicate. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and pat dry using a paper towel. Repeat the same procedure for each shrimp. These steps are tedious but essential for good results.

Marinating the shrimp:

In a large bowl, dissolve the palm sugar in 1 cup water, then combine the liquid with the shrimp, 2 cloves of garlic, Kosher salt, red chili powder and a splash of sake. Let stand for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Drain the shrimp and pat dry again. There should be as little liquid as possible.

Cooking saffron shrimp:

In a large, heavy-bottom pan, heat the oil for about 1-2 minutes over high heat. Add the rest of the garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add the bell pepper and transfer to a platter.

Season the shrimp with salt.

Place the shrimp in the pan one piece at a time. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until seared on one side, then start stir-frying the shrimp for another minute (if the pan is not large enough, you could stir-fry the shrimp in batches). The shrimp will start to open up like a butterfly. Add the saffron powder and remaining sake liqueur. Add ½ cup cold water to the mortar (saffron is quite pricey, don't waste it!) and transfer to the pan. Stir well.

Drizzle with lime juice. Stir well. Return the bell pepper and garlic to the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper. Turn off the heat and transfer to a platter.

Garnish with parsley.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I used a regular sake rice wine this time but I've used another interesting, flavorful alcohol in the past for the same shrimp dish; it's called Love's in the Air Japanese shiso Shōchū liquor from Koi Shisou. I buy it at a local Korean/Japanese market. 

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 14, 2015.


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