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Friday, February 22, 2008

Fennel Shrimp:Recipe

Fennel Shrimp
We all know that fresh herbs can make a dish sing. But my herb garden is in hibernation these days. Some of the parsley is coming back, and a few leaves of mint, barely enough for a garnish really, so I've had to resort to buying fresh herbs, and looking for other options. One decidedly herbal enhancer I've been playing with is Pernod.

Pernod Fils used to be one of the most popular brands of absinthe. After 1915 when absinthe was no longer legal in most of Europe, the recipe changed, but the herbal and anise flavors remained. While it's not the type of thing I drink, Pernod, like Pastis and ouzo, it's absolutely wonderful to use in cooking. For years I had a bottle of ouzo that I used when steaming mussels or sauteing seafood. But it had a syrup like consistency and I find Pernod to be a bit more subtle. The fennel flavor it lends to vegetables and seafood is really delicate when used in moderation. The Pernod website has great suggestions and recipes to get you inspired.

I'm trying to follow the guidelines for sustainable seafood that the Monterey Bay Aquarium suggests these days, and one change I've made is to buy American shrimp at a local market from time to time instead of the cheaper imported shrimp. I butterflied them and cooked them quickly with onion, fennel and equal parts Pernod and sour cream and just a bit of fresh parsley. The resulting dish was pink and creamy with sweet herbal notes that played nicely against the saltiness and sweetness of the shrimp. It was such a pretty dish, I think it would perfect for a dinner party. Don't you?

Fennel Shrimp
Serves 2


14-15 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied about 3/4 lb
1 Tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped fennel
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup Pernod
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the shrimp for 1-2 minutes or until pink but not completely cooked through. Add the onions, fennel, and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the Pernod and simmer for 1 minute. Add the parsley and sour cream and stir to combine. Add the salt and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until just cooked through and pink.

Spoon the shrimp and sauce over rice.