When I was in San Francisco not so long back, I went to a seafood restaurant and ordered something spooky on the menu called ‘Shrimps & Wine’. It combined two fundamentally gorgeous things, obviously, so it made sense to order it. I was also pissed at this point.
I was half expecting a pasta dish to be brought to the table. Instead, the waiter brought a tray covered in newspapers and what was spread over the newspapers was exactly that… shrimps that had been boiled in wine.
Please don’t read my confusion as disappointment, because it happened to be one of the most heavenly meals iI’ve ever had. I absolutely devoured the shrimp with my hands, sucking at the Shelly bodies, heads and claw making sure I savoured every morsel of the seafood spike wine. I put a bib on and everything.
Ever since I’ve been obsessed. Whether it’s the simplicity of its cooking or the dexterity of its eating, there’s something about it that I will always love.
Here is my elegant take on it. Not elegant in the way you eat it, you are still expected to eat the shrimps with your hands, god damn it. However I’ve made more of a ‘meal’ around the glorious elixir wine broth, which you can finish off with a spoon like a good drunken soup.
Get yourself some prawns and mussels. I use frozen for both and defrost them in time for making this. This just means they’re cooked already which makes the process so much quicker. But if you have the wherewithal to use fresh, absolutely do.
For reference, I like keeping the heads and tails on the prawns because I use my fingers (or teeth) to rip these off. I only eat these with people I am very comfortable with. But you could absolutely do this with normal prawns with no heads or tails – just don’t use the tiny ones, as these will shrink and totally disappear during the recipe process.
In a big pan with a lid, heat up a big dab of butter and a small dab of olive oil. Add some finely chopped garlic (one big clove or two small ones) and stir quickly so that it doesn’t burn.
Turn the heat down slightly and let the garlic bubble in the butter. Pour in about two glasses of white wine. Bring it to a big bubble, add some salt and keep it bubbling for about a minute.
Throw in the prawns and mussels, give the pan a gentle shake so that the wine pulls them into the liquid and put the lid on. Allow everything to steam for about 30 – 40 seconds.
Remove the lid and serve. I literally just spoon the seafood into bowls and then pour over the garlicky liquor. Sprinkle over some fresh parsley and serve with nothing more than a beer and some napkins.