The weather has been so lovely this week and suddenly, February feel more like March so I am having a hard time getting excited about making more stick to the ribs weekly specials at The Kingston Social. My brain is all about spring and sun and the need to be warm so all I want to eat is ceviche and fish and salad, drink Gin and Tonics on the porch and pretend it's time to start on the garden.
With that in mind, I looked to North Africa for inspiration after making some carrots roasted with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend, during my last cooking class at Loblaws. Ras el Hanout (means head of the shop or top shelf in Arabic) = North Africa = chermoula and chermoula = some type of seafood and since my latest obsession happens to be sous vide shrimp, a dish was born.
You might think it silly to cook shrimp using sous vide when they already cook in minutes on the stove top but sous vide results in the most amazing texture. Since I intended to almost pickle the shrimp in the charmoula and serve it room temperature, I wanted to make sure that the shrimp didn't start off overcooked, which is so easy to do when you are boiling, sauteeing or grilling them. The beauty of sous vide is that you have much more control over the cooking process for results that aren't achievable with any other method.
To read more about sous vide shrimp, read this great article over at Serious Eats which will tell you everything you need to know and the most important thing you need to know is that it works and the results are perfection.
Moroccan Shrimp with Roasted Carrots and Labneh
Sous Vide Garlic Shrimp
Ras al Hanout carrots
approx 3/4 cup labneh
1/4 cup toasted, finely chopped pistachios
Sous Vide Garlic Shrimp:
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled but leave the tails on
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbls of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
pinch kosher salt
to sous vide:
toss the shrimp with the baking soda and leave in the fridge while you prep the sous vide and the garlic oil.
heat a water bath to 138.5F
In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat and add the garlic to the oil. Let it cook until the garlic is softened and just starts to take on a bit of colour, remove from heat and let cool.
In a ziplock bag, mix the shrimp with the garlic oil and a pinch of salt, massage gently to make sure all the shrimp are coated and then, using the water displacement method, seal up the bag. Gently move the shrimp around in the bag until they are all in a single layer - they will not cook evenly if they are are all jumbled up in there.
Drop the bag in the water once it's reached 138.5F and let cook for at least 15 minutes but you can leave the shrimp in there up to 1 hour. Remove the bag from the bath and cool it down immediately using an ice bath.
**If you don't want to use sous vide for the shrimp, simply boil them for a couple of minutes until they turn white and opaque and cool them in an ice bath right away.
Put 3/4 of the charmoula in a glass jar or non reactive bowl, remove the shrimp from the bag, disgarding the garlic oil, and add the shrimp to the 3/4 batch of charmoula and mix well. Put this in the fridge for at least 8 hours although it's fine to leave it overnight as well.
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch italian parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch mint, chopped (keep a few leaves back to garnish the finished dish)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
hot chili to taste (I used about a 1/2" piece of the hot orange chili I had in the fridge)
1 1/2 small preserved lemon, seed removed, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of two lemons
1 tbls ground cumin
1 tbls ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
pinch kosher salt
Put everything in a food processor and buzz until you have a mildly chunky paste, like pesto - don't totally puree.
Ras al Hanout Roasted Carrots:
1kg (2 lbs) multi colour carrots, halved horizontally and then again vertically
2 tbls of olive oil
1 tbls ras al hanout
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 450F and move a rack to the bottom third part of the oven.
Toss the carrots in the oil, ras al hanout and salt and lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for about 25-35 minutes (after 25 minutes keep an eye on them), until they are starting to brown and are tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
To serve, let the labneh, carrots and chermoula come to room temperature so that only the shrimp are cold.
Spoon a few tbls labneh on the bottom of a plate, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of maldon salt. Top with a nest of roasted carrots and then arrange three jumbo shrimp on top of the carrots. Spoon a bit of reserved charmoula over the top of the shrimp and finish with about a tbls of chopped, toasted pistachios and a sprig of mint.