Fresh Catch: Shrimply the Best Coconut Shrimp with Mango Dipping Sauce
Shrimp is a great way to elevate any dish. Especially when you add it to pasta, salads, and Italian sauces. It also works great as a stand-alone dish or an appetizer. Regardless of the recipe, there are some things you should know when working with this tasty ingredient and how to elevate it.
Don’t overcook it.
Shrimp is one of those ingredients that cooks very fast (7 minutes or under). It can also overcook from residual cooking (sitting near heat or in a hot pan). Always be mindful of overcooking it and you’ll prepare mouth-watering shrimp every time.
The ideal internal temperature of shrimp is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You’d be there all night if you had to check the internal temperature of two pounds of shrimp with a meat thermometer. The good news is that there are a few visual signs that shrimp is ready. It will shrink slightly when fully cooked. Look for a capital C shape in the shrimp. If it’s too small or looks more like the letter O then guess what? It’s overcooked. Remember, raw shrimp is gray and fully cooked shrimp is a beautiful opaque white with red and pink accents. Keep an eye on it.
Cleaning a shrimp is known as deveining. It removes the thin black line along the shrimp’s back. Although it’s not 100% essential to devein a shrimp, doing so makes the dish more appealing.
There are a few ways to perform this method. You can use a shrimp cleaning tool that removes the shell and deveins the shrimp in one downward pull. Or you can rely on the old-school method and use a sharp 3” or 4” paring knife. Work close to a sink so you can clean the shrimp under running water. Find the thin black line on the back of the shrimp and run your knife along with it. Always starting from the head (thick part) down to the tail. When the line is exposed, run it under the water or scrape it out with your knife to remove the grit. Always change the cutting board, wash knives, and your hands after the shrimp cleaning task.
Most people know what food allergies to be aware of when cooking for themselves or their immediate household. However, it gets a little trickier when you’re hosting a bigger dinner with more people. It’s impossible to know someone is allergic to shrimp unless they tell you. Here are a few tricks you can use to get around this potentially dangerous situation. If you’re a good cook chances are you’ve done a little advanced planning and know the menu days before the event. Send out a menu or list of dishes that you’ll be making so people can address food allergies as needed. Taking food allergies seriously is the sign of a good host and cook.
Mango Picking 101
There are countless varieties of mango and not all of them are created equal. One must search far and wide for the perfect mango. It will make the dish! Remember, mangos that have a floral fragrance and a creamy sweetness are the best ones to cook with. When selecting a mango, look at the skin. Make sure the skin is somewhere between a yellowish to a greenish color. For most mangos, that means it’s just ripened. A yellowish orange color means it’s fully ripened. A mango should be firm to the touch but when you press on it, there should be a little softness. The smell test is another great way to pick the perfect mango. The fruit should have a floral and sweet fragrance. If you’re new to mango shopping just compare it to what a ripe avocado or peach feels like. The touch should feel about the same. Happy Hunting!
Mangos aren’t the cheapest fruit on the stand, so make sure that you’re not wasting any of it. The large pit can be a challenge and the thin skin makes it difficult to remove all of the fruit. Try making a cross-hatch pattern in the mango to get a better yield.
Here’s how: place the stem side down. You’re going to make a cut on both sides of the pit separating the fruit. After the two cuts, you’re left with the middle section (the pit) and two halves. Make a grid cut by slicing lengthwise and crosswise on the two halves of the mango. Slice deep enough to cut the fruit but not too deep to score through the skin. Invert the half mango and you’ll see perfect cubes from your knife cuts. Use your fingers to remove the pieces or carefully run your knife along the skin and the cubed mango. Voilà! Your mango is ready to eat or cook with. As for the pit side, you can find some smaller pieces of usable mango but the closer you are to the pit, the more fibrous the fruit becomes.
A Note about Ingredients
If you’re cooking outside your comfort zone and using an ingredient for the very first time, try doing a little advanced research beforehand. Maybe you’ve never cooked with coconut milk before. Don’t be intimated, the Internet is an infinite source of culinary advice and stories of personal cooking experiences. Chances are, you can find the subject “using coconut milk for the first time.” You can learn tips and tricks about the ingredient and what brands to avoid and which ones to seek out. Lastly, if you plan on making a new dish for the first time for a special occasion, always try making it once before the actual debut. You wouldn’t make a presentation at work or a speech at a wedding without at least one dry run. Nothing is as heartbreaking as a culinary fail on a special occasion. Practice makes perfect. Bon Appetit!