Rarely do those suffering the winter’s harsh conditions head north for peace of mind. In fact, on the way up to Maine, I passed a sequence of signs suggesting a tendency for New Englanders to head south, advertising bathing-suit sales and discounted snorkeling gear.
Somewhere in the midst of these was a small wooden placard that read “Shrimp. $1/pound.” I thought back to the small, sad bucket of Maine shrimp at my local fish store in Brooklyn at $5.99 a pound and slammed on the brakes. Inside a wooden shack on the side of the road, a 17-year-old girl wearing a fluorescent pink coat sat beside a trough of brightly colored Maine shrimp. She had a scale and a short temper. She weighed out three pounds carelessly and threw them into a paper bag. $3.
Once we got to our little cottage tucked into the snowy hillside, I cracked open two local brews and heated a large frying pan with good olive oil. Next, I tossed in a little garlic and slid the shrimps across the pan. There’s no better reward for a seven-hour drive. If you haven’t sautéed shrimp before, here’s a couple pointers: They only take a few minutes and are finished when the shells are uniformly a deep, dark magenta. Don’t mind the egg sacks tucked under their little bellies. If you give a little tug on the head and then the tail, the sweet succulent meat should slide right out. After shelling a few, you’ll get the hang of it. They don’t quite qualify as a meal, but do make a lovely snack around cocktail hour. So few foods flourish in February. Take advantage of them while
you can. Maine Shrimp Sautéed with Garlic and Sea Salt (serves four as an appetizer)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pounds Maine shrimp
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 handful of flat leaf Italian parsley leaves, picked from stems and washed
Wash shrimp under ice-cold water. Heat a large frying pan with olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and push it around in the oil until it begins to brown. Add the shrimp. Using a pair of tongs, turn the shrimp often, giving all a chance to cook through, about five minutes total. Liberally sprinkle sea salt and add parsley. Give a good toss and serve along with a bowl for the empty shells.