Naming recipes can be hard. I can’t settle on a single word to describe this dish. It’s rich, bright, layered and satisfying all at the same time. I’ll be honest: I started out to write a recipe for mussels in some sort of a white wine sauce, but something had me stuck. While I love the flavors of a great mussel and wine dish, it needed a spin.
I was craving something smoked but didn’t want to bother with setting up a smoker. After getting my hands on some beautiful fresh shrimp the gears really started turning. How can I get the flavors of smoke easily into a dish, without all the fuss of the smoker?
Well, one way is to impart flavor with a cooking method as opposed to an ingredient. We achieve this by roasting the tomatoes in the oven. This helps to bring a depth of flavor and slight sweetness to the tomatoes that you can’t get any other way. A little char on them hints at a smokiness.
The other way we bring a bit of smoke flavor to the party is through some cheats. Yes, we are taking the easy way this time, and I have no regrets. Smoked paprika and liquid smoke bring it home.
While those flavors are great, what makes this dish work so well is the other umami ingredients in the mix. The fish sauce, for one, brings some depth to this sauce even in such a small amount. Fresh herbs and lemon juice cut through the richness of all the smoke and roasting. It brings a brightness that just reminds me of summer.
Enjoy this dish with some crusty bread to sop up all that goodness in the sauce. Or even put it over white or brown rice.
. . .
2 pounds extra-large raw shrimp (thawed if frozen), deveined and shelled
4–5 medium tomatoes (halved, seeds removed)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 shallots, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry Sherry
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Large handful (10g) fresh basil, roughly chopped
Handful (10g) fresh parsley, chopped
Roasting the tomatoes
Set oven rack to just above middle position.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place halved tomatoes, cut side up, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes lightly with olive oil and lightly salt them.
Place baking sheet with tomatoes into the oven and roast for 45–60 minutes. (This is a great time to get all your chopping and prep work done.) Check on them after 30 minutes to make sure they do not burn; you want some char but some ovens will cook the bottoms too quickly. If this happens, flip the tomatoes cut side down for the remainder of the cook time.
Remove tomatoes from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled enough to handle, give them a good dicing and set aside.
Bringing it all together
In a large deep-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
Add the diced shallots and cook 4–5 minutes, until fragrant and translucent.
While the shallots cook, use a Microplane to remove the zest from the outside of the lemon and reserve for later. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from 1 half, reserve for later.
Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook for another minute, making sure not to burn the garlic.
Add the tomato paste and stir well to incorporate into the shallots and garlic. Continue to cook for 2 minutes to remove the raw taste of the tomato paste.
Next, add the sherry and with a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Once deglazed, let the sherry reduce by half.
Add the roasted tomatoes, lemon juice, liquid smoke, fish sauce, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and half of the parsley to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for another 3–4 minutes so the tomatoes release their juices.
Next, add all of the shrimp, stir to cover them in the sauce. Cover and cook 5–6 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through. Remove cover and take pan off the heat.
Plate and garnish with reserved parsley and lemon zest.