To peel or not to peel? This is the question of the shellfish lover. Removing the shells from shrimp allows for more delicate eating, and shellless shellfish can be welcomed in salads, pasta and stews. Its delicate flesh can be courted with tasty sauces and marinades. On the other hand, cooking them with their shell means that the cutlery is unnecessary, any marinade will come off with the shell and then there is the unpleasant matter of the digestive tract. However, cooking shrimp with their shell not only protects them from drying out, but increases their taste tenfold.
As a rule, we are firmly rooted in the shell camp. So much of the flavor is in the shell that we just can’t bear to lose it. We love no-frills seashells and relish the ritual of sucking heads, biting tails and getting our fingers dirty. But sometimes we also crave a little sweet garlic butter.
This recipe represents a happy compromise between the two approaches. It works especially well with large shrimp. We love the rich, creamy purity of coconut oil paired with the crisp, fragrant lime and the sweet warmth of chili. The shells are still there, imparting flavor and protecting the meat. There would be just enough sauce to dress cold noodles or serve over rice, but it really should be eaten on its own, one juicy bite at a time. If you can’t stand wasting the sauce, eat it with a spoon, or better yet, slide your finger in and lick it off. You don’t really eat shellfish unless your hands get sticky.
Baked half-shell shrimp with chili and lime
Light dinner for two or a refined appetizer for four
Heat your oven to 200 ° C (assisted ventilation).
Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the middle of the shrimp and separate them into two halves. It’s really easy to do. The best way is to wrap the shrimp so that the head and tail are firmly in one hand. With the other hand, start cutting carefully down the middle of the curved back until it splits in half. Otherwise, ask your fishmonger for help. Remove the digestive tract that runs along the top of the shell.
Place the shrimp with the flesh side up in an ovenproof skillet or roasting pan. Brush with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper and the zest of half a lime. Cut the lime in half, then half into four quarters and add them to the pan.
Prepare your salsa by cutting the chilli and ginger into very thin matchsticks. Thinly slice the coconut using a peeler. You can buy prepared pieces in a supermarket.
Add the juice of a lime and a half, a good pinch of salt and mix well to combine.
Put the frying pan with the shrimp in the oven just before you are ready to eat. The very big ones only take 6-7 minutes (4-5 for the little ones). As soon as the flesh has turned white and the shell has turned bright pink, they are ready. Out of the oven, top with salsa and juice and serve immediately.
To pursue @FTMag on Twitter to discover our latest stories first