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Spicy Gazpacho with Jerk Pickled Shrimp Will Become Your Favourite Summer Dish

So, it's the end of June and it's finally getting really hot and that means I don't want to eat hot food anymore. I start craving ceviche, salads and watermelon by the kilo and something I always think I want to make, but never do, is gazpacho. I really like all kinds of gazpacho so look for some other versions throughout the summer.

 This particular dish was inspired by my June SupperClub menu which is mostly Middle Eastern but with a touch of Jamaican flavours, thanks to my Jerk Lamb Kofta. I always start my menu with one dish and then base the rest of menu around that so this time, I wanted something as first course that would be refreshing and light and lean a little towards Jamaica.

Both the soup and the pickled jerk shrimp are great on their own (a bowl of shrimp with some bread to sop up the pickling liquid is a great meal in it's own right) but I find that something magical happens when you put the two together.

Spicy Gazpacho with Jerk Pickled Shrimp

Makes 1 quart/litre of soup 
540 grams of ripe tomato (approx 5 medium)
150 g english cucumber (approx 1/2)
100 g orange pepper (approx 1/2)
2 scallions
1 slice white bread
3 or 4 stalks of fresh thyme
few sprigs of fresh italian parsely
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (or more to taste)
pinch kosher salt to taste
2 tbls sherry vinegar
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

Rip the bread up, cover with water and let it soak while you make the soup.

*edited to add a new option for the tomatoes:
Instead of having to blanch and peel them, you can grate them. Cut large, ripe tomatoes in half and then grate them against the large holes on a box grater placed in a big bowl, skin side out. When you get the end of the flesh, you will be left with the skin, which you can discard and a bowl full of tomato pulp.


To peel the tomatoes, carve a shallow X in the bottom of the tomato and remove the stem. Then, bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the tomatoes in for 1 minute. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a big bowl full of ice water. Using a paring knife, peel the skin off over a bowl to catch all the juices, discarding that skin.

Roughly chop the peeled tomato over the bowl and then pour the tomato and any juices collected in the bowl into the blender container along with the cucumber, orange pepper, scallions, thyme, parsley, scotch bonnet, sherry vinegar and oil in the blender. Pull the leaves off of the thyme stalks and add those and then remove the bread from the water, squeeze out the extra water and add that to the blender and then puree until really smooth.

Taste, add a pinch of salt and even a bit more vinegar if you want it really tangy. Give another whizz and then pour the soup into a 1 litre/quart glass jar, cover and put it in the fridge for at least an hour to get really cold before serving.

Jerk Pickled Shrimp
1/2 lb shrimp, tails on
1 tbls jerk paste or liquid seasoning

2 scallion, chopped
5 tbls cider vinegar
juice from 1 lime
1 tsp kosher salt
black pepper
2 tbls olive oil
1 tbl jerk paste or liquid jerk seasoning
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper

Cook the shrimp in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, until it just turns opaque. Drain and rinse in cold, running water and set aside. If you use shrimps with shells on, at this point remove the shells, leaving the tails and devein.

In a glass jar, combine the scallion, scotch bonnet, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, jerk seasoning and garlic and shake till well mixed. Now stuff in the shrimps and the fresh thyme, put it in the fridge and let it sit for at least an hour and up to two days.

For each serving, pour out a bowl of soup, drizzle with a touch of pickling liquid and garnish with a few shrimp. It's really nice to serve in small bowls with one or two shrimp hooked over the rim or even as small shooter sized servings with one shrimp.

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