When last I wrote, I was still whipping up experimental batches of Killer Shrimp based on recipes gathered across the Internet. This should serve as documentation of my 4th attempt which incorporated not only the changes from the various web sites that I’d examined but also the advice of my wife.
STILL… MISSING… UMAMI!
In the last batch, I was struggling with the fact that the tongue-wagging, center-of-one’s-palette, ‘savory’ taste of Killer Shrimp that compels one to eat & eat & eat mouthful after next of bread dipped in the red-orange broth was still sort of missing. I concluded that it was possible that it was the process itself that created this flavor: In other words only after creating a batch of the broth could one create a more perfect broth by using the initial batch as a base.
So indeed, I saved 2 cups of the original broth and added it during the beer phase of the cooking process with the intention of mellowing out the flavor and making it more well rounded. I also cooked up the batch then let it set overnight to see if that helped, as this often makes many meals I have attain a better balanced, fulfilling taste.
THE ADDITION OF “MIREPOIX”
Additionally, my wife noticed that something needed to cut the flavor a little. She thought of adding plain sugar at first but we decided to think about it.
It then dawned on her that the addition of pre-softened onion & celery from Jaden Hair’s recipe sounded awfully close to just simply kickstarting the dish with something called “mirepoix”, a traditional flavor base for many French dishes. Considering that Killer Shrimp’s origins were from New Orleans’ cajun/French quarter, it would make perfect sense that this recipe started with a complete “mirepoix” stock.
Being that the only thing missing was a carrot, I decided to simply just add it to the preparation.
THE BEER. AND IT’S DEFINITELY BEER.
Just a note: I’d written that I had some question as to whether or not the recipe required wine or beer, and in the end, I believe it really is beer. My friend Steph concluded that the beer’s more robust flavor greatly contributed to Killer Shrimp’s unique gusto and I agree.
The end result was very good however I discovered something of a backlash from the pepper used. Because I simmer the broth down so much, because I may have overchopped the spices, and because I added the previous batches broth to the mix, it came out overly hot and the pepper sadly detracted from the broth’s overall taste.
So if you make this, keep in mind that reducing the pepper may be necessary if you simmer down the recipe too far or use a starter broth. Changes made to the recipe have been highlighted in bold font.
- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 1 moderate sized carrot, diced
- 5 cloves Garlic, minced
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (was 1 cup butter)
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoon rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (3/4 teaspoon if PREVIOUS batch of Killer Shrimp is available)
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (3/4 teaspoon if PREVIOUS batch of Killer Shrimp is available)
- 8oz clam juice (was 1 cup clam juice supposed to change to 2 cups but switched back to 8 oz)
- 3 tablespoons (3 oz) of tomato paste (was 1/2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste)
- 1 cup beer (ale)
- 1 ½ pounds shrimp, with tails
- 1 (1 pound) loaf French bread
- 2 cups of PREVIOUS batch of Killer Shrimp
- Fry onion, celery, carrots, garlic in the butter until fragrant and soft in a large pot.
- Take all the spices (rosemary, thyme, pepper, celery seed, fennel seed, pepper flakes) and cut/crush them enough that they remain whole but are broken to more easily release flavor.
- Pour in broth, and mix in rosemary, thyme, pepper, celery seed, fennel seed, clam juice, pepper flakes, & tomato paste. Place cover on pot to maintain consistency.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Stir beer into the broth mixture as well as PREVIOUS batch of Killer Shrimp and continue to simmer and occasionally stir 2 hours.
- Just before serving, stir in shrimp. Continue cooking 3 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque.
- Serve with bread.
For those who missed it, this is part 3 of a 6 part series on reverse engineering the recipe for Killer Shrimp. The rest are here: