This dish was a spontaneous extra course in our recent shrimp-based “Hand-To-Mouth” meal for FoodBuzz’s “24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” project.
I’d planned to make five courses, but I’d bought a beautiful fennel bulb earlier in the day and found myself staring at it — when suddenly I was struck with the idea of pairing shrimp with brandy-braised fennel. Yum! A seafood sausage seemed like the perfect vehicle almost an amuse bouche so I slotted it in the middle of the meal.
I added some soft dried apricot to unite the flavors, and parsley and a little lemon zest for brightness. After poaching, I rolled it in sweet Hungarian paprika and served it warm with a jalapeno-infused cilantro tartar that had a touch of sweetness from the pomegranate. A spur-of-the-moment success!
Here’s a photo of the Shrimp, Braised Fennel, & Apricot Medallions With Cilantro Pomegranate Tartar Sauce below.
For the Seafood Sausage:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
3 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large bulb)
1/2 tsp dried fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp brandy
2 Tbsp water
8 ounces peeled uncooked shrimp, chopped (see Cook’s Note)
(watch our video which shows how to easily peel, process, and devein shrimp)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp heavy cream
4 large (or 6 small) dried apricot halves, chopped
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp sea salt
Sweet paprika for coating (optional)
Cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)
For the Cilantro Pomegranate Tartar Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 small jalapeno pepper, finely minced (seeds removed)
2 Tbsp finely minced cilantro leaves
1/2 cup pomegranate arils, divided
Heat the olive oil and the butter in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped fennel, fennel seeds, and salt. Saute the fennel until it has softened a bit and just begun to color. Lower the heat to medium; push the fennel to the sides of the pan, leaving a clear spot in the middle. Add the brandy and let the alcohol cook out for a minute, then add the water and stir all together. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 7 - 10 minutes or until tender, stirring regularly. Uncover for the last few minutes and stir until excess moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat, pour into a colander, and allow to drain thoroughly while cooling.
While the fennel is cooling, put about three inches of water in a fish poacher or other large, wide pot and set over high heat.
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the chopped shrimp, egg whites, heavy cream, apricots, parsley, lemon zest, and salt. Mix in the braised fennel gently but thoroughly.
Lay out a large (18 inch) sheet of heavy duty plastic wrap on top of a similarly-sized sheet of aluminum foil and spoon/smooth the mixture into a log shape, about 10 - 12 inches wide, in the center of the plastic wrap. Roll up the sausage in the sheet of plastic wrap, shaping it and taking care to remove any air pockets as you go. Twist the ends tightly, tuck them under, and roll up the sausage in the foil. Twist the ends tightly to secure. (Note: if you don’t have a large enough pot, you can make two smaller sausages instead)
When the water has come to a boil, gently place the sausage in the pot. Simmer uncovered for ten minutes or until sausage feels firm. Remove and allow sausage to rest, wrapped, for10 minutes while you make the tartar sauce.
Combine the mayonnaise, jalapeno, cilantro, and half of the pomegranate arils (reserve the other half for garnish.) Refrigerate if not using immediately.
To Serve: Unwrap and pat the sausage dry before coating with paprika, if desired.
Using a sharp knife, cut the sausage into thin slices and fan them out on the plate. Spoon a dollop of the tartar sauce on top or on the side and sprinkle with some of the reserved pomegranate arils. Decorate with a long sprig of cilantro, if desired
You can chop the shrimp in a food processor, but do it carefully and in small batches. Pulse, scrape down with a spatula, and pulse again, then check the texture. You want something equivalent to a very chunky salsa, with visible pieces of shrimp, not a smooth paste.
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.
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