Cooking with Parind:
BBQ shrimp with grilled
butternut squash and salsa verde
By Parind Vora
Special to the LPR
Hello everyone. My name is Parind Vora. In this column we talk cooking, tricks to cooking and sometimes eating.
With all this weirdness hopefully ending, let us talk cooking again.
It looks like September is teasing us with cooler weather….How about some BBQ shrimp with grilled butternut squash and salsa verde.
To me, the most important thing is not to overcook the shrimp, as it usually has very little fat to keep it moist.
What does it mean to not overcook shrimp?
Is it safe not to cook shrimp well done?
How can I tell the shrimp is done?
A lot of us are afraid to cook shrimp because we always seem to turn it into a rubbery doggie chew toy. I mean, here we are, we have no problems cooking steaks or chicken but jumbo shrimp…that’s a whole another story. One main rule is that don’t cook the shrimp all the way done as it will continue to cook and then toughen up.
We screw it up because we cannot tell when we need to stop cooking it.
So, lets tackle the first question about what it means to not overcook the shrimp. Not overcooking shrimp means to cook it only just enough so it is tender and moist through out the meal. How much and the method we use to cook it will depend on the size of the shrimp itself. So smaller shrimp, for example, can be cooked very, very little – or even cold center and slowly heated in the sauce. While jumbo shrimp is always just barely cooked through (medium). Medium well/well done for any size shrimp is overcooked because you are continuing to cook the shrimp past medium (cooked through) and we are just drying it out & rubberizing it by continuing to cook it more.
Regarding if it is safe to eat raw/rare-medium rare shrimp. It depends. Most often salt-water shrimp don’t have issues that affect us and as long as you do not have health issues you’re fine.
Seafood is healthy, low calorie, low cholesterol food while also high in Omega 3 FFA.
As far as knowing when the shrimp is cooked will depends on its size & characteristics. So, for our column today, we will cook jumbo shrimp (the 16-20 shrimp per pound size) as it is very easy to tell how much the shrimp is cooked because it becomes more opaque or visibly more solid colour versus semi-transparent.
BBQ shrimp with grilled butternut squash & salsa Verde.
• (160 – 200 g) peeled & deveined jumbo (16-20/pound) shrimp (frozen is ok but thaw in the fridge overnight before cooking)
• 6 thick slices of seeded butternut squash cut into scrubbed clean and cut into 1” think rings with skin-on
• Olive oil
• Your favorite homemade BBQ sauce heated and kept warm
• ¼ stick unsalted butter, chopped
• 1/2 of a peeled white onion roughly chopped
• 3 whole peeled garlic cloves
• 4 husked tomatillos cut in half
• 1- 4 stemmed Serrano peppers including the seeds (use as much or as little to suit your tastes)
• 1/4 bunch cilantro (roughly chopped including the stems)
• 1 small bunch fresh oregano roughly chopped
• Vegetable oil
• 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• You will need an ovenproof fry pan that can comfortably hold all the shrimp. NOTE: If you don’t have a oven-proof fry pan just wrap the plastic handle with 3-4 wraps of aluminum foil.
- Coat the butternut squash in oil and season the cut butternut squash heavily with salt & pepper. Grill to char the outside and get the grill marks. Put the grilled but still mostly hard & raw butternut squash on a cookie sheet on the middle rack in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees F. and cook for 30 minutes initially and keep checking until its done (a knife enters it very easily).
- Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic cloves, Serrano peppers in a heavy-duty pot & cover with water and boil until everything is soft and take it out of the water and put into a blender and add the roughly chopped cilantro, lemon juice, salt & blend until smooth. Add the cooking water little at a time until the sauce is of a desired thickness. Keep warm.
- Check on the butternut squash. Pull them out of the oven & check for doneness. Put them back in the oven until the butternut squash is cooked fully and is easy to poke a knife through. Recheck the seasoning and add more to taste if needed. Drizzle with olive oil and keep the butternut squash hot.
- Pre-heat the oven-proof fry pan on medium high heat for one to two minutes. (Never, ever try to cook anything starting with a cold pan…everything will stick – also, make sure the hood is on its highest fan setting)
- On a plate, season the shrimp well with salt, smoked paprika & pepper.
- Carefully put the shrimp, seasoned side down and season the back with smoked paprika and black pepper only in a medium hot pan.
- Drizzle oil around the edges of the shrimp.
- Now comes the hard part…don’t do anything. Don’t shake the pan, don’t move the shrimp, leave it alone.
- When you see the shrimp getting lightly brown and becoming more opaque add the just enough warm BBQ sauce to coat the shrimp and shut off the stove.
- Add the chopped butter to the pan and swirl until the butter is incorporated.
- Flip the shrimp over with a spoon carefully and put into the oven for 1-2 minutes right before you will serve it. Pull out of the oven and let it rest one minute before serving to let the proteins in it to relax and become more tender.
- To plate: put half of the grill-oven roasted butternut squash on the center of the plate. Top with half of the BBQ shrimp (the shrimp should not be swimming in the sauce, just a light glaze is best) and add a generous drizzle of the salsa Verde. Enjoy.
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