Yield: Serves 8 as a shared appetizer
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, size 16-20 per pound, tails removed and bodies butterflied
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 (10-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, well-drained
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
1 teaspoon black pepper (divided)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
Vegetable oil or vegetable-canola oil blend in quantity recommended by manufacturer of fryer
½ cup Wondra flour or substitute (see notes)
½ cup heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
¼ cup unsalted butter cut in ½-inch cubes
Juice of 1 medium lemon, strained of seeds
2 to 3 green onions, green part only, sliced on the diagonal
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Notes: Find Wondra flour online at Amazon.com or make a substitute: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of bleached all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Use a sieve or a triple flour sifter to sift the mix three times. Store in a covered container.
• If cooks don’t want to deep fry or pan fry the shrimp, it still works if you saute the shrimp.
• This dish is not served hot, but more at room temperature.
• The leftovers can be used with pasta for a nice second round. Note that the shrimp loses its crispy texture after refrigeration but still tastes great.
1. Eight to 24 hours before cooking the dish, place shrimp that has been peeled, deveined, tails removed and butterflied in a large shallow dish like an nonreactive 8- or 9-inch gratin pan or cake pan. Pour buttermilk over the shrimp and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator until cook time.
2. The following day, wash the mild banana peppers and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Char over an open flame on a gas stove or grill or in a grill pan until the skin blackens and blisters. Place blistered peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic or in a paper bag to steam for 10 minutes.
3. Pour canned fire-roasted tomatoes and juices into a mesh strainer over a bowl. Allow tomatoes to stand at least 10 minutes. Press tomatoes lightly with a spoon to release juices. Place well-drained tomatoes in a small stainless steel bowl, cover loosely and set aside. Save juices for a future cooking project if desired.
4. Remove the skin from charred peppers. Cut them in a 1/8-dice and add to tomatoes.
5. Stir smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper into the tomatoes.
6. Add ¼ cup olive oil, red wine vinegar and honey. Stir to blend, then add to the tomato sauce and set aside. This sauce is not cooked.
7. Begin heating recommended amount of oil in home deep fryer to 375 degrees.
8. Warm a small shallow sauce pan over low heat, then add heavy cream or half-and-half. Add butter cubes one or two at a time to melt. Don’t allow the sauce to bubble or boil, but just to stay warm enough to melt butter. As the sauce heats, juice one lemon into a small bowl.
9. Remove the pan from the heat. Add a little of the warm sauce to the lemon juice and stir to temper. Stir tempered lemon juice into the warm butter and cream. Cover and set to a warm place on the counter.
10. In a small bowl, whisk together rice flour, Wondra or substitute, ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper.
11. Remove shrimp from the refrigerator. Toss them in the pan to coat. If necessary, add more buttermilk to moisten shrimp.
12. Ladle flour mixture over the shrimp and toss to coat them evenly, making sure all sides are coated. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with brown paper bags or paper towels; this will be used to drain cooked shrimp.
13. When the oil is ready, fry in batches until golden brown and crispy. Removed to rimmed sheet to drain.
14. To plate the dish, add ¼ cup shredded Parmesan to the tomato sauce blend. Measure out 2/3 cup of tomato sauce and ½ cup of lemon cream and butter sauce into a small bowl. Stir together to just blend.
15. Place 3 tablespoons each of the blended sauce on two serving platters and spread around.
16. Place half the shrimp on each plate over the sauce. Top with remaining sauce divided between two platters. Sprinkle lightly with green onions and remaining Parmesan cheese.
Per serving: 478 calories; 33g fat; 19g saturated fat; 118mg cholesterol; 15g protein; 32g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 2g fiber; 665mg sodium; 117mg calcium