Brainless Butterfly Shrimp [recipe]

IMG_3808I used to not eat shrimp. Ever. Which is funny because I’m Cantonese and Chinese, and shrimp is a staple seafood of the cuisine. Growing up, going out to eat dim sum was a frequent family event on the weekends. We’d order xiā jiǎo (shrimp dumplings, a.k.a. har gow), and I’d peel out the shrimp filling, plop it on one of my parents’ plates, and only eat the starchy rice flour dumpling wrapper. My parents joke that I missed out on “the good stuff.”

seafoodIt wasn’t until our family took a trip to Hong Kong when I was nine years old that I began eating shrimp. There, we rode a ferry out to the tiny island of Cheung Chau, which is restricted to motor vehicles. I remember biking along the water front and seeing fisherman laying out their freshly-caught scallops and shrimp to dry in the sun. Our host simply walked up to one of those fisherman and purchased seafood. She only had to go a few feet away to a restaurant where she handed over the fish and shrimp. That shrimp was the juiciest, sweetest shrimp I have ever tasted and I have yet to experience shrimp that matches that standard.

HK Tokyo 073
Nine-year-old Bethany biking on Cheung Chau Island

Now, as a college student, my appreciation for shrimp goes beyond taste and centers around the fact that shrimp cooks easily and that its color change loudly proclaims when it is done. Though this is not a complicated recipe, these shrimp always hit the spot and can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes. They’re best when fresh basil is available and would work excellently in tacos!

IMG_3800**Note: When I say “brainless,” I’m referring to the fact that little effort is required on your part. I am not saying anything about removing the brain of the shrimp or about the person who is cooking. 🙂

Brainless Butterfly Shrimp

14 large shrimp, fresh or frozen & thawed

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

4 fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Clean and devein shrimp.
  3. Butterfly shrimp by cutting open each shrimp along the spine
  4. Place shrimp on baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic and basil over the shrimp.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper.
  6. Broil for 10 minutes or until shrimp is cooked and orange in color.


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