Take a break for shrimp and beer

Kate Krader
Bloomberg News (TNS)

A new cookbook from virtuoso Seattle chef Renee Erickson, “Getaway: Food & Drink to Transport You” (Abrams Books; $40), offers some inspiration for spring dishes. Plus it’s a timely read for every­one who is armchair dreaming of a food-centric destination.

Erickson’s tome, written with Sara Dickerman, highlights her favorite eating and drinking spots around the globe: Paris, Rome, Normandy, London, Baja and Seattle. “I’m drawn to the places where people look the most at ease,” she writes. “Those informal, bustling spaces like cafes and street-side bars where even a tourist like me feels like I’m part of the living city.”

The 120 recipes Erickson compiled as an ode to those spots cover some well-traveled ground — but still feel singular. Her Rome section offers Ricotta and Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini with Too Much Olive Oil, as well as lamb chops scottadito, inspired by a beloved spot, Armando al Pantheon.

In the Baja section is Erickson’s recipe for shrimp cocktail, and it’s a great choice for anyone who wants a way to transport themselves to a beach on the western edge of Mexico.

It’s not the version most of America envisions when they think shrimp cocktail — there’s no steroid-size shellfish perched alongside a mound of potent cocktail sauce or grated horseradish. Instead, Erickson, a strong proponent of sustainable seafood, poaches wild sweet shrimp in a bath of Mexican lager and dried chili to give it a refreshing and contrasting bitter bite.

Then it’s all chilled back down and piled in a bowl, where brightly flavored cilantro oil, fresh chili slices, refreshing tomato slices and lots of lime join the party. The unlikely finishing touch is a plate of Saltine crackers. Use them to scoop up the shrimp and the result is delightful: a crispy, flaky bite to go with the chewy shrimp and its spicy, juicy marinade.

“You could use tortillas, make a taco out of the shrimp,” says Erickson. “But Saltines are what I’ve had the most when I’ve had this dish. And they’ll surprise you.”

The recipe calls for a couple of cans of Mexican lager for cooking. “I recommend picking up a six-pack, leaving you with a few extra beers to enjoy alongside the shrimp,” says Erickson.

"Getaway" by Renee Erickson. (Abrams/TNS)

Shrimp Cocktail With Tomato and Cilantro Oil

  • 1 cup chopped cilantro stems and leaves
  • 1 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon seeded and roughly chopped serrano chile, plus 1 serrano, very thinly sliced
  • Two 12-ounce cans or bottles of light-bodied Mexican lager, like Tecate or Pacifico
  • 1 dried ancho or guajillo chile
  • 5 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus more to taste
  • 30 shell-on wild Gulf shrimp, size 16-20, deveined
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into slim wedges, or
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Saltine crackers, to serve

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the cilantro stems and turn off the heat. After

30 seconds, drain the stems, then let cool. In a blender, combine the stems, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the roughly chopped serrano, and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

In a medium saucepan, bring the beer, ancho, 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Discard the chile.

Bring the beer mixture to a boil again. Place half the shrimp in the liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the shellfish turn pink and the meat is just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate, and put them in the refrigerator to cool. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.

When the shrimp are cool, peel them and cut in half lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the tomato, about 1/2 cup of the cilantro oil, the remaining 3 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with more cilantro oil, salt or lime if desired. Sprinkle with the serrano slices and serve with Saltines.

Serves 6.

— Recipe adapted from “Getaway” by Renee Erickson with Sara Dickerman.

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