Shrimp labeled "flash-frozen"-frozen
at sea-are fine. If you choose fresh, buy them on the
day you plan to use them (they don't keep well); the
flesh should smell like salt air and have a firm texture.
Avoid shrimp with black spots or a grainy texture.
Preparing. First, shell the shrimp. Hold each shrimp leg side
up and peel the shell from the inside curve with
your thumbs and forefingers, leaving the tail intact.
Next, devein the shrimp. Gently run a paring knife
along the center of the outside curve from head to
tail, exposing the vein. Use the knife to remove the
vein; rinse if necessary.
Cooking. Lemon and a bay
leaf give shrimp a subtle flavor. Fill a pan with
eight cups of water; add one-half lemon and one bay
leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer
ten minutes. Return to a boil and add one pound of
shrimp. Cook until bright pink and opaque, about two
minutes. Do not overcook.
Cooling. Place a rack over
a rimmed baking sheet. With a slotted spoon, transfer
shrimp to rack. Cover with ice to cool, about five
minutes. Avoid using ice baths. They can make shrimp
mushy and tasteless.
Storing. Keep cooked shrimp as
cold as possible until serving. To store, fill a
bowl three quarters of the way with ice. Put shrimp
in a resealable plastic bag and place atop ice; cover
with ice. Place bowl in refrigerator, replenishing
ice as needed. To serve, arrange shrimp on a platter
or along the rim of an ice-filled bowl, accompanied by lemon
wedges and cocktail sauce or lemon aioli.
MAKES ONE CUP - 3/4 cup prepared ketchup, 2-1/2
tablespoons prepared horseradish, 2 tablespoons freshly
squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4
teaspoon hot-pepper sauce.
In a small bowl, combine
the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, salt and pepper
sauce. Whisk to combine. Refrigerate in an airtight
container for up to three days.