If you’re hosting a holiday cocktail party, you’ll want something easy, elegant, and finger-friendly to pair with that bubbly flute. If you’re serving dinner, a passable appetizer to keep guests occupied until the main meal is in order.
In any case, it’s hard to go wrong with a simple shrimp dish. According to the National Fisheries Institute, not only is the platter of shellfish a party favorite—Americans set a record 4.6 pounds per person in 2018—but it cooks up quickly and is easy to source.
This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is on the bold side with a strong spice blend of garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. It blooms in a pan similar to shrimp, with generous amounts of fresh cilantro and garlic and lemon adding freshness.
It can be served as an appetizer with toothpicks and cocktail napkins (leave the tail on for a pretty presentation), or paired with rice as an entrée.
When choosing shrimp, look for shellfish that have a clean smell and feel firm to the touch when thawed. If it smells like ammonia, it is spoiled. It is measured by the number of shrimp it takes to make one pound.
Pan-Seared Shrimp with Cumin, Parsley and Pistachios
- 1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 16-25)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- couple dashes of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/8 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves and stems
- juice and zest 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup peeled pistachios, chopped
Toss shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl; Keep aside for 15-30 minutes. Combine garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and remaining 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl.
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Add 1 Tbsp oil and sugar to bowl with shrimp and toss to coat.
Place the shrimp in a single layer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and cook over high heat until the undersides of the shrimp are spotty brown and the edges are no longer pink, 3–4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Working swiftly, use tongs to flip each shrimp. Let sit until the other side is opaque, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plate.
Now pour the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the empty pan. Add spice mixture and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat, return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add cilantro, parsley and lemon juice and zest, and toss to combine.
Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with pistachios and serve with toothpicks (as an appetizer) or steamed rice (as an entree).
—Adapted from “More Mediterranean: 225 New Plant-Forward Recipes” by America’s Test Kitchen ($35)