Chef Mendes likes to emphasize that shrimp heads hold the most flavor which is why he uses them (this is a signature dish at his restaurant Aldea). These shrimp can also be easily thrown into a taco with some pickled red onions and a pinch of cilantro. — Yasmin Fahr
From Chef George Mendes of Aldea
- 2 shrimp heads
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- ½ fennel, thinly sliced
- 5 shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 star anise 1 tablespoon saffron
- ½ cup Brandy
- ½ cup Pernod
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Water, to cover
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- 2 sprigs parsley
- Canola oil, as needed
- 16 shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon pimentón (sweet, smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Paprika, for garnish
- Cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish
In a large pan, toast the shrimp heads in a thin layer of canola oil until fragrant (don’t let them burn). Add the onion, fennel, shallots, garlic, fennel seed, star anise and saffron and sweat until soft.
Deglaze with brandy, then Pernod. Add butter and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
Remove from the heat, add the tarragon and parsley, and allow them to infuse for 15 minutes. Pass through a food mill, then strain through a chinois.
Allow to cool and set the ‘essence’ aside for later use.
Season and sear the shrimp in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil for 30 seconds on each side to caramelize them. Remove from the pan and set aside. Lower the heat and add the remaining olive oil and minced garlic. Cook the garlic slowly, shaking the pan, until lightly golden. Add the pimentón, and mix well. Return the shrimp to the pan and let cook another minute on each side, adding the chopped parsley, cilantro and lemon juice.
Heat the shrimp essence. And place 4 shrimp in the center of each plate. Spoon a small amount the garlic-olive oil mix over the shrimp and then a spoon of the essence on top of and around the shrimp. Top with a small pinch of paprika and cilantro.