Brined Shrimp.... and a simple recipe for Chinese Eggs with Shrimp and Scallions
Since I've brought up the topic of brining in my last post, I thought to also share one my favorite ways to "perk" up un-cooked frozen shrimp.... accomplished by using the brining method once again. We all probably know about brining a turkey, chicken, even pork chops... more common meats to brine. But brining seafood isn't as widely known, or talked about. Or maybe I just didn't know about it....
I grew up thinking you weren't supposed to soak seafood in water(especially fish)... reason being that the water would leach out all the flavor from the seafood. But soaking seafood in plain water isn't the same as using a brine. Interestingly enough, years ago when I used to teach at an elementary school, I had a teacher's assistant whose husband always used to go to Alaska for salmon fishing. I remember her saying the fish tasted best when soaked in salted water before cooking it... at the time I thought the idea was a bit strange, though I have to say that it did make me think... and that's why I never forgot about it. Sadly, I didn't try brining seafood until about a couple of years ago.
In any case, I love to apply the brining method to shrimp. It not only firms up the flesh of the shrimp, but it makes them have that "pop" when you bite into them. They're just nice and plump without being dry or limp....and it just gives them a ton of flavor. The brine also helps the shrimp to retain moisture, which is especially great when you're planning on "dry" cooking the shrimp... such as grilling, pan frying, or broiling the shrimp. Brining and blanching isn't really recommended. But you know, I'll also use the brining technique even when blanching shrimp.... just because it's quicker, and the method allows me to use the shrimp in a variety of dishes.... and well... it works for me:). I'll use the brined blanched shrimp when making shrimp cocktail, or in the dish I'm sharing today. But do feel free to skip the blanching and just broil the brined shrimp if you like... or quickly panfry the shrimp.
So I used the brined blanched shrimp to make a quick and tasty dish called, Chinese Eggs with Shrimp and Scallions. The final photo I took of the shrimp and egg dish was taken in quite a hurry... seconds before sitting down to eat:), so it's not the best photo. But I really wanted you to see how I used the brined shrimp.
I love making this dish because it comes together rather quickly, making it ideal for those busy weeknights...or when you're too tired to make a complicated meal:). The dish can be served on its own... or even used as a side dish to other Chinese dishes. You can easily adjust the recipe to include ingredients you like... so feel free to add some spinach leaves, steamed bok choy, or other vegetables of choice. And if you don't care for shrimp, or are allergic to it, you can opt to just make the scrambled eggs alone. It's still delicious:)...
So in case you've never brined shrimp before, you might want to try it out and see the difference. It really doesn't take long to brine the shrimp... and the result, I think, is worth it. Actually, I've been using the brining method on my shrimp ever since I was introduced to it. Hope you enjoy...
A great read on basics of brining: Cook's Illustrated notes
Note: I have used the brining method on frozen fish fillets as well....it works especially great on large pieces of fish used in "dry" method cooking(grilling or roasting)....though I won't blanch the fish:)
~You can add a bit of sugar to the brine, if you like...but I prefer not to, just because it works without the sugar as well:). But in case you are interested in the salt and sugar ratio, you can see the cook's illustrated version above or Alton Brown's version... HERE
Tip: When brining seafood, take care not to have the seafood sit in the brine for too long or it will be too salty. A general rule: do not brine seafood for longer than 30 minutes.
You will need:
1/2 lb shrimp*
3 cups water
1 TBS kosher salt
* I'll often use frozen shrimp and allow the shrimp to defrost in the brine... and then rinse.
1. In a bowl add water and salt . Mix until salt dissolves.
2. Add shrimp to brine and let sit for about 20 minutes( if peeled) or 30 minutes if unpeeled....
~I often just place frozen shelled shrimp in the brine and allow the shrimp to defrost completely( it can take a bit longer than 30 minutes)... then remove from brine.
3. Remove shrimp from brine and rinse quickly. Cook as desired.
For blanched shrimp: feel free to place shrimp under the broiler for a few minutes until pink...or quickly panfry.
1. Bring water to a boil and remove from heat.
2. Add shrimp. Remove shrimp when they have turned pink... they will cook quickly in a matter of a couple minutes or so. Don't overcook...
To make Chinese Eggs and Shrimp.... using blanched shrimp
Tip: you can add some peas along with the shrimp, if you like.
You will need:
1 TBS milk( or stock)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 TBS chicken stock
1/3 cup chopped green onion
chile flakes, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz cooked (shrimp from above)
2 TBS oil
1. Crack eggs in a bowl and add milk( or stock, if using), soy sauce, sesame oil, the additional stock, chile flakes, salt and pepper.
2. Beat until frothy. Stir in onion.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet pan on med/high until hot. Add oil.
4. When oil is hot, add a bit of the egg mix...if it sizzles and puffs up, it is ready.
5. To the hot pan, add the egg mix. With a spatula, bring in the egg from the sides... to the middle of the pan to form large curds. Do this from all sides until the egg is nearly set, but not quite. This shouldn't take longer than a couple of minutes on med/high heat.
6. When eggs are nearly set, but still a bit wet, add the shrimp and fold them in gently.
7. Turn off heat and cover. Allow to sit covered for a couple of minutes or until the top of the eggs are set and they have puffed up a bit. Serve immediately.