This dish was the first course in our recent shrimp-based “Hand-To-Mouth” meal for FoodBuzz’s “24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” project.
I wanted to open the meal with a dish that would convey the purity and exquisite freshness of a perfectly boiled, lightly chilled shrimp. I also wanted this dish to be an elegant color story of flavorful ingredients that harmonized visually with the color of the shrimp. The rose quartz radishes (an easy but impressive little technique) and the crisp, lightly-cooked snow peas fit the bill exactly.
The Blueberry-Tarragon Butter brings together the bright mint notes of a familiar tarragon butter with the warm sweetness of dried blueberry. I layered it for contrast and also to create an opportunity for each guest to experiment with the flavors.
Here’s a photo of the Shrimp, Snow Pea, & Rose Quartz Radish Salad With Blueberry-Tarragon Butter below.
1 stick butter, softened
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp dried blueberries (dried cranberries would also be good)
16 large red radishes (plus a few extra; see Cook’s Notes)
1/4 tsp salt
12 uncooked jumbo shrimp
(watch our video which shows how to easily peel, process, and devein shrimp)
Coarse sea salt
16 snow pea pods (plus a few extra)
Fresh chives or fennel fronds
In a small mixing bowl, gently combine the softened butter with the minced tarragon. Chop or process the blueberries into a fine mince; separate out about one-third of the tarragon butter and mix it with the blueberries. Choose a small container to use as a butter mold (round or rectangular is fine; I used a small ramekin) and line it with plastic wrap or waxed paper to facilitate removal after the butter chills. Layer the butter in the container (see Cook’s Notes below), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Rinse the radishes thoroughly. Using a sharp knife, pare off part of one side of the radish in a straight up & down cut (in other words, don’t follow the curve as you would if you were peeling it.) Turn the radish slightly and repeat, varying the depth of the cuts as you go. You want a random, straight-sided polygon, like a crystal. When you’re done with the sides, ’sharpen’ the ends in the same manner. It sounds harder than it is; do it once and you’ll have the knack. Don’t discard any that seem misshapen, as they can sometimes look the most realistic once they pick up the color. Also, and this is VERY important, don’t discard any of the peelings, since these are what will color your radishes!
Put the radishes and all the peelings, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, in a small pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until just tender (about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness). Turn off the heat and let them cool in the water. They will take up the color during this cooling period, so be patient. Remove and chill.
While the radishes are cooling, cook the shrimp in at least 3 quarts of rapidly boiling water (it will facilitate peeling later) with about a tablespoon of sea salt. Be careful not to overcook them: as soon as the turn fully opaque (about the time that the water returns to a boil, if not sooner), they’re done! Take them out and rinse the shrimp with cold water or put them in a bowl of ice water.
For the snow peas, you can either steam them for a few minutes over the boiling water from the shrimp, or blanch them for a minute in a small amount of boiling water with a pinch of salt. Remove, rinse in cold water, and chill.
Remove the shrimp, snow peas, and radishes from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before plating. To serve, peel the shrimp and arrange them in an overlapping ring, i.e., head over tail. Stand three or four radishes in the center of the shrimp ring and sprinkle the radishes with a few grains of coarse salt. With a sharp wet knife, cut a slice of the butter and lay it next to the shrimp. Fan three snow pea pods behind them on the plate. Take the peas from inside one of the extra snow pea pods and sprinkle them randomly in the empty space on the plate. Garnish with a couple of fresh chives or fennel fronds.
Note: you can plate these as soon as the ingredients are chilled (don’t sprinkle the salt on the radishes until serving time), then cover and refrigerate them. Remove the plates from the refrigerator at least 5 minutes before serving.
For the radishes, the slightly elongated ones are best, and the larger and redder the better. If you can only find pale radishes, you can add a little beet juice to the water for color. Make sure you buy a few extra for carving practice, taste-testing, etc.
Because I wanted a rounded shape to echo the curve of the shrimp, I spread the tarragon butter in the ramekin so that a ‘trough’ remained down the middle. I carefully filled the space with the blueberry butter, smoothed it out, and gently tapped the ramekin on the counter a few times to set the layers. You can use your imagination to layer the butter any way you wish.
You can also see our list of delicious seafood recipes, organized by type of fish to make it easier for you to find culinary inspiration and ideas.
Please join us tomorrow for our recipe for Shrimp, Braised Fennel, & Apricot Medallions With Cilantro Pomegranate Tartar Sauce, as part of our special Holiday Shrimp Week Series.
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