Stew gets dinner on the table in no time
No matter where they hail from, part of the appeal of skillet dishes is the fact they get dinner on the table in no time, usually with just a handful of ingredients.
This spicy shrimp dish has roots that reach all the way to the island nation of Mauritius, east of Madagascar. A tasty blend of European, African, Chinese and Indian influences, Mauritius cuisine features a lot of fresh seafood. Much of it is enlivened with rich spices like ginger, garlic and thyme, and chile also is a key player.
After a quick sear in the pan, shrimp is softly poached in a mildly spicy Creole tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes flavored with minced ginger, garlic, onion and cilantro stems. It’s served with even more cilantro — you have to be a fan — and a sprinkle of green scallions.
The recipe calls for extra-large shrimp, but I used colossal (15 per pound) because it was on sale. For more bite, season the shrimp with a little more cayenne, or add a pinch or two to the tomato sauce. Serve with steamed white rice.
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided, or more to taste
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 11/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 scallions, whites minced, greens sliced on the diagonal, reserved separately
- 1 bunch cilantro, stems minced, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
- Cooked rice, for serving
In small bowl, stir together 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Season the shrimp on both sides with the mixture.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add half of the shrimp in a single layer and cook without stirring until golden on the bottom, 45 to 60 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to plate. Brown the remaining shrimp in the oil remaining in the pan, then transfer to the plate with the first batch.
To the oil remaining in the skillet, add ginger, garlic, thyme, scallion whites, cilantro stems, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook over medium, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain steady but gentle simmer, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add shrimp and accumulated juices. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in cilantro leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve over cooked rice.
— “Milk Street: The World in a Skillet” by Christopher Kimball (Voracious, April 2022, $35)