The wonderfully aromatic, candied coating on this shrimp attains just the right balance of sweet and spice. Frank Ruta, chef/co-owner at Palena in Cleveland Park, recommends serving the shrimp atop an argula salad dressed with citrus vinaigrette.
Do not substitute store-bought candied peel; it is far too sweet.
Make Ahead: The candied orange zest may be made up to 3 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container.
Servings: 4 - 8
Yield: Makes 8 first-course or 4 main-course servings
- For the candied orange zest
- 5 oranges
- 4 3/4 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- For the shrimp
- 1/2 cup flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 to 6 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh large or extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), shelled and deveined
- 4 tablespoons butter
For the candied zest: Using a zester or a vegetable peeler, remove all of the zest from the oranges in long strips. Do not include any of the bitter underlying white pith. Cut each strip of zest into matchstick-size strips about 1/8 inch wide.
In a medium saucepan, bring the orange zest and 4 cups of the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Drain; set the strips aside.
Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and bring the remaining 3/4 cup water and the sugar to a boil. Simmer, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low; add the drained orange zest, cover the pan partially and simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Check the zest frequently so it does not burn.
Pour the zest into a strainer, discarding the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the zest on the baking sheet, transfer to the oven and bake for 4 hours. Turn off the oven but leave the sheet in the oven to dry completely, for at least 2 and up to 8 hours. The zest may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Using a food processor, process the candied orange zest until finely ground. Add the cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Transfer to a shallow dish; set aside.
For the shrimp: In a shallow dish, combine the flour and salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
In a shallow dish, using a fork, lightly beat the yolks and set aside.
Have ready a platter or baking sheet large enough to hold the shrimp in a single layer.
Rinse the shrimp, pat dry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Working with 1 at a time, first dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, turning to coat both sides and shaking to remove any excess. Then dip the shrimp lightly into the egg yolk, turning to coat both sides and allowing any excess to drip off. Then dip the shrimp into the candied zest mixture, turning to coat both sides and pressing the mixture to help it adhere. Place the shrimp on the platter or sheet. Repeat with the remaining shrimp. (May cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, being careful not to allow it to brown. Add about half of the shrimp; do not crowd the skillet. Cook, turning as few times as possible, just until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the size of the shrimp. Do not overcook. Transfer to a platter and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
Scrape any remaining orange zest crumbs from the skillet and sprinkle over the cooked shrimp. Serve immediately.
Chef Frank Ruta
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