Shrimp makes fast, delicious dinners

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, August 25, 2015

By Deirdre Parker Smith

School has started, vacations are mostly over and you have 30 minutes or less to get dinner on the table.

Or you’re planning a little get-together for Labor Day. What’s fast and sure to please a crowd?


Boneless, skinless chicken breasts have been the go-to for so long that it’s time for a change.

Fresh shrimp, or shrimp straight from the freezer is just as versatile as chicken and for most people, shrimp is a treat. Sweet and juicy, shrimp work well with many of your favorite recipes.

You could substitute quickly cooked shrimp in a marinara sauce to serve over pasta. How about a shrimp pizza with cocktail sauce? The key is to keep the recipe simple so you’re not spending forever in the kitchen.

If you do buy frozen, raw shrimp, look for the ones that are frozen individually, so you can just take out what you need. If you’ll be using the whole bag, you can quickly thaw it by placing the bag in a bowl of cool water.

Shrimp with shells is fine, too, but our goal is to get home, take off the shoes and make something delicious and fast.

Scared of cooking shrimp? Don’t be – they are one of the easiest foods to determine doneness.

Fresh or thawed shrimp will be grayish and a little translucent. When they’re cooked, they turn opaque and pink with bright red tails. The also curl into a circle. Do not, under any circumstance, cook shrimp too long. They’ll be a rubbery and unpleasant. Better to have them a tiny bit underdone. Cooked just right, they are succulent, sweet and tender.

If buying fresh shrimp and the numbers confuse you, here’s a quick guide: Small shrimp are 51-60, meaning one pound of small shrimp contains 51 to 60 shrimp; medium is 41-50; large is 31-35; jumbo is 16-20; and extra colossal are under 10. Seems strange to call shrimp extra-colossal, but there you go. Large or extra large 26-30 are the right size for a big shrimp bite. For salads or tacos, you may want to stick to medium. Small shrimp are for dainty dishes and dainty appetites.

If using frozen shrimp for your recipe and you’ve run them under cold water to thaw them, make sure to pat them dry before cooking.

It’s best to add shrimp to a hot pan so it cooks quickly. and it’s a good idea to season before cooking. You don’t have to stop with salt and pepper. Use any herbs or spices you enjoy — a little chili powder, a sprinkling of Italian seasoning, a dash of paprika, simple dried thyme or basil. Garlic and onion go well with shrimp. Cumin and coriander add an international flare. Garnishes like parley, cilantro or green onion become part of the dish’s flavor.

You can use an indoor grill pan, a skillet or a baking sheet for quick cooking. Barbecued shrimp are divine, but you have to skewer them and heat the grill and what not. For most of these recipes you just need one pan or pot, limiting cleanup time, as well.

Roasted Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Butter

1 to 1-1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1 stick of butter

2 large cloves garlic

Zest of one lemon

Juice of two lemons

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice butter and place around a foil-lined baking sheet with rim.

Zest one of the lemons and then juice two lemons so you have about 1/3-1/2 cup lemon juice.

Smash garlic cloves and remove skin.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper and toss to mix.

Place garlic on baking pan and put in oven until butter is completely melted and hot.

Remove pan and place shrimp in a single layer in the melted butter. Remove garlic cloves, so they do not burn. Pour lemon juice over the shrimp, then sprinkle on zest and return to oven.

Let cook 10-15 minutes until pink and opaque and remove from oven. Sprinkle with parsley, green onion or chives for color. Serve immediately. You might want some crusty bread to soak up the juice.

Shrimp Fried Rice

2 (3 1/2-ounce) bags boil-in-bag long-grain rice

1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas

Cooking spray

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup chopped green onions

1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger

12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of crushed red pepper

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Remove rice from bags, and return to pan. Add peas to the pan, stirring well. Cover and keep warm.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add eggs to pan; cook 1 minute or until set. Remove eggs from pan; coarsely chop. Return pan to heat; add canola oil to pan. Add onions and ginger to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Add shrimp mixture and eggs to rice mixture; stir well. Combine vinegar and the remaining ingredients, stirring well. Drizzle vinegar mixture over rice mixture; stir well.

Chili Shrimp with Corn

1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt to taste

2 limes

Olive or vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp. or more

1 cup fresh corn cut from cob or frozen, thawed corn

Jalepenos (optional)

Toss shrimp with chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and salt. Heat oil in nonstick skillet till hot, but not smoking. Saute shrimp 5-10 minutes, until pink, opaque and curled. Remove from heat. Add corn to skillet and toss just to heat through, adding salt and pepper to taste. Return shrimp to skillet and add lime juice, stirring just to combine. Serve with a green salad.

Shrimp Tacos

1 pound medium shelled and deveined shrimp

One packet (2 Tbsp.) taco seasoning mix

3 Tbsp. lime juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, sliced or chopped

2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil

Soft corn or flour tortillas

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Shredded lettuce or cabbage

Chopped tomato

Cilantro, optional

Slice avocado and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lime juice, set aside with lettuce or cabbage and tomato. Toss shrimp with taco seasoning, minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Heat oil in skillet and add onion first, stirring till slightly softened. Add shrimp, cooking for up to 5 minutes, until shrimp is pink and tails are red. Remove from pan and cook remaining juice until thickened, then return shrimp to pan to coat. Remove from heat. Build tacos starting with shrimp, then add lettuce, tomato and avocado slices. Add chopped cilantro, if using.

If desired, top with salsa.

Serve with warmed black beans topped with sour cream.

Leftover cooked shrimp are great to top a salad, or mixed with a bit of mayonnaise and served in a sandwich. Use a dinner roll and a few shrimp to create a cool seafood slider.