Friday, January 6, 2012

Sauteed Shrimp with Shrimp Hummus

"Tourné vers demain mais soucieux d'hier" or "facing tomorrow but respectful of yesterday." This is the mission statement of Pierre Gagnaire, a well established French chef who owns restaurants around the world.  Gagnaire is described, at least by some as an "iconoclastic," who challenges French cuisine through his experiments with flavors and textures.

I recently came across several recipes from Chef Gagnaire that Food & Wine Magazine had published on its website.  One recipe that caught my attention was the Sauteed Shrimp and Shrimp Hummus.  The combination of shrimp and hummus -- in the hummus -- was very intriguing.  So, I decided to take a stab at making the hummus for my beautiful Angel, Clare, who loves hummus.  

The Shrimp Hummus basically comes from the use of a shrimp stock to make the hummus.  The recipe includes a homemade shrimp stock, which I made.  The recipe also includes the directions to make chickpea crackers.  I did not make the crackers because I made this dish as part of a three course meal for Clare.  I substituted some crostini for the crackers, although, the next time I make this dish I will definitely try to make the crackers.

I followed the recipe to the letter, and, it produced a very delicious hummus.  I expected a little more of a shrimp taste, but both Clare and I were surprised by the nuttiness of the hummus.  Clare even asked if I had used tahini, but the recipe did not call for it.  I think the shrimp stock, together with the chickpeas, helped to create the flavor of sesame or nuts in the hummus. 

Adapted from a recipe by Pierre Gagnaire, available at Food & Wine
Serves 2

1/2 pound of U-15 shrimp (commonly referred to as "jumbo")
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of cognac or brandy
Freshly ground black pepper
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of olive oil

1.  Make the Shrimp Stock.  Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering.  Add the shrimp shells and cook over high heat, stirring until starting to brown, about 1 minute.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until shiny, about 1 minute.  Add the cognac and boil for a minute.  Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 12 minutes.  Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a food process and process until the shells are finely ground.  Pass the jus through a fine strainer into the saucepan.  Boil the jus over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 7 minutes. 

2.  Make the Hummus.  In a blender, puree the chickpeas with three tablespoons of water until smooth.  Whisk the puree into the reduced shrimp jus and season with salt.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring until heated through.

3.  Saute the Shrimp.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the shelled shrimp and cook over moderate heat, turning a few times until just white throughout, about three minutes.  Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper. 

4.  Plate the Dish.  To serve, ladle the shrimp hummus into shallow bowls.  Place the shrimp in the bowls, drizzling the peppery oil from the skillet around the shrimp.  Arrange crackers or crostini alongside the shrimp and serve.


The magazine Food & Wine suggests that the Sauteed Shrimp with Shrimp Hummus is best paired with a Chenin Blanc wine, like a Vouvray, from the Loire Valley in France.  If you cannot find a Vouvray wine, there are alternatives, such as a Viognier.  Such a wine would provide floral and honey aromas and tastes, which contrast with the nuttiness of the hummus.  I also think that a wine with citrus flavors could also work well.  Here are some possible suggestions:

Victor Hugo Vineyards -- Viognier (2009).
100% Viognier
Paso Robles AVA, California, USA
Melon and honey tastes, crisp with lighter body. 

Domaine de Chevilly -- Quincy (2009).
100% Chenin Blanc
Le Centre Loire, Loire Valley, France
Grapfruit and other citrus fruitiness. 


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