08.11.12: tapas (shrimp with Catalan romesco sauce and pain and destruction)

It all began innocuously enough: I asked Michael what he’d like to make for dinner while the Food Network played in the background, and he requested tapas. So I pulled out my copy of Culinaria: Spain to browse through their tapas spread, first pausing in the Catalonian chapter to see if they had anything tasty that might also work. Between the two, I found a simple dish of sautéed shrimp with a tomato-based romesco sauce, and a bacon-and-egg tapa called duelas y quebrantos, which translates to “pain and destruction.”

We should have taken it as a sign. But then again–what would be wrong with eggs and bacon? Surely Ron Swanson would approve.

The problem with duelas y quebrantos, you see, is that originally it was made with brains and not bacon. So  now I guess there is a need to compensate for that by making the eggs extra-rich and fluffy and creamy by adding…cream. We never consume cream–and why I thought it would be a good idea to use it here, I will never know. The dish was absolutely delicious, but, well, it didn’t sit that well after the meal. Or the next day. So if I ever dare to make this again, it will be made without cream.

Fortunately, the Catalan romesco sauce turned out to be absolutely exquisite without any later side effects. I always thought that a romesco was one sauce that had roasted red peppers and almonds; it turns out that it really is defined by just the almonds themselves, and multiple varieties of the sauce abound. This one calls for tomatoes instead of peppers, and with the help of a blender, it all came together in about fifteen or twenty minutes. It goes with everything: shrimp sautéed in oil and a little garlic, a plate of eggs, alongside some grilled meats, or with a loaf of freshly baked bread.

Romesco de Langostinos

from Culinaria: Spain

  • 1 lb (or more) shrimp, peeled and devined with tails on
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 dried red chiles (I used chiles de arbol), seeded and chopped
  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 slices toasted white bread
  • Chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Fry the shrimp in olive oil until pink and no longer translucent: set aside. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of the oil; when shimmering, fry the garlic and almonds until golden. Remove them using a slotted spoon. Sweat the onion in the oil until transparent, and then add the tomatoes and chile peppers, stir to mix, then add the bay leaf and cook on high heat for about a minute or two. In a blender, add the bread, parsley, almonds, garlic, and tomato/onion mixture and add the sherry vinegar and some salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Place it into a bowl and serve with the shrimp.

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