Tag Archive for Shellfish

Dutch Food: Shrimp Cocktail

The Netherlands and the North Sea are famous for seafood specialities, namely mussels, shrimp and herring. Before I wrote about mussels and herring, and now I will write about the famous and delicious brown shrimp, caught in the North Sea. They are always small and brown in colour (hence the name). They are quite different from all the pink shrimp/prawns/scampi/etc;  they smell creamy and sweet, taste nutty and sweet, quite pronounced in comparison to pink shrimp, and they have a firm but tender texture.

Usually the shrimp are washed, boiled and cooled on board of the ship that caught them, so almost all shrimp you buy are cooked. Usually they are peeled as well, unfortunately this does takes some time, which isn’t beneficial for the taste of the shrimp. They also add preservatives that have an effect on the taste.  For the most delicious shrimp you get, you must purchase them directly from the ship or the fishing port, but finding a place that sells shrimp like this can be difficult. Brown shrimp are available through the whole year, but peak availability is in april/may and in autumn. Unfortunately, brown shrimp don’t have an MSC certificate yet, because some important information is not available (the effect of brown shrimp fishing on the ecosystem is being studied at the moment). They aren’t overfished, but there is a lot of by-catch. Fortunately, from a sustainability point of few it is considered acceptable to eat them once in a while. You can use them in hot or cold dishes, but when using in hot dishes, make sure to heat them only very shortly, otherwise they will get tough. The two best things you can make with them, in my opinion, are shrimp cocktail and shrimp croquettes. I’m a firm believer of not messing with the classics, that is why I give you a very classic recipe for shrimp cocktail. Delicious!

Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp cocktail (serves 4)
Sweet Dutch prawns with a lovely, creamy sauce on a bed of lettuce.

200 g Dutch brown shrimp (peeled and cooked)
few leaves of lettuce (shredded or whole)
4 small lemon wedges (optional)
½ tbsp chopped parsley or a pinch of paprika powder

3 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 drop tabasco
2 drops Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp sherry or whisky
salt and pepper

Place lettuce on 4 small plates.
Top lettuce with shrimps.
Make the sauce by combining all ingredients (fold whipped cream in to keep it airy) and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Dollop sauce on top of prawns.
Garnish with lemon and a sprinkling of parsley or paprika powder.

Flatfish with a creamy sauce

Flatfish with a creamy sauce is a classic French dish. Some people find it daunting, but it is actually not that difficult to make, especially when you do some things the easy (but still delicious!) way and not the classic way. I like to use plaice or sole on the bone, but you can also use fillets. And when you cannot find any flat fish you can also use something like cod or haddock. Adding brown shrimp to the cream sauce makes it just a little bit more luxurious, but you can leave them out if you want. I served steamed small potatoes and a mix of vegetables on the side, which are delicious to dip into the sauce.

Timing is very important for this dish, because you have to eat the fish directly after it is finished cooking, and the shrimps directly after heating them in the sauce. Both turn rubbery when kept warm too long. So make sure the sauce, the fish and the side dishes are ready at the same time.

Fish in a creamy sauce

Flatfish with a creamy sauce (2 servings)

1 shallot, diced very finely
1 glass of white wine
250 ml cream
salt and pepper
100 g brown shrimp (cooked)

2 individually sized flatfish

steamed small potatoes and mixed vegetables as a side (optional)

Place the shallot and white wine in a sauce pan, bring to the boil and reduce until barely any liquid is left. Add the cream and boil to the desired consistency (I like to reduce it quite far to make quite a thick sauce). Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can sieve the sauce to remove the shallot, but you can also leave it in like I did. Set aside (off the heat).
Heat a pan large enough to hold both fish. Turn down to medium heat and add the butter. Place the fish in the pan, fry gently until the fish is cooked halfway, then carefully turn over and fry the other side. Don’t flip more than once, these fishes are very delicate and prone to flaking/falling apart.
Meanwhile (just before the fish is finished cooking) add the shrimps to the sauce and warm through on low heat, this takes about 30 seconds.
Place the fish on a plate, place the side dishes next to it, and spoon the sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Prawn Curry

Another delicious curry; rich, fragrant and creamy. Also delicious with other seafood (the original recipe was for lobster). Serve with rice and a cucumber & lime salad.

Adjust the amount of chilli to your own taste and keep in mind that different chillies have different levels of hotness. I used half a teaspoon of chilli flakes without seeds instead of the Kashmiri chillies (I can’t find them around here), giving the curry a bit of heat but not too much.

Prawn Curry (serves 4)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s India”

4 dried Kashmiri chillies, half with seeds removed
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
seeds of 2 green cardamom pods
1.5 cm cinnamon stick

1 tbsp coconut oil
35 g onion, finely chopped
10 g garlic, finely crushed
10 g ginger, finely grated
1/4 tsp turmeric
small handful of curry leaves (fresh are best but are hard to get, otherwise use dried or omit)
200 ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
50 ml tamarind liquid (soak 60 g tamarind pulp in 120 ml boiling water for 15 minutes, then sieve and press as much of the liquid from the fibrous tamarind pulp as possible)

500 g prawns (cooked)

Toast the chilli, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon in a dry pan on medium heat, until fragrant and golden. Shake regularly to prevent burning. Pour in a mortar and pestle and grind finely.
Heat the coconut oil in a large pan. Add the onions and fry until golden. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry leaves, fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground spices and fry for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the prawns), bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until reduced and thick.
Add the prawns to the sauce and cook for a few more minutes to warm through. Serve immediately.