Showing posts with label shrimp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shrimp. Show all posts

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Piquant Shrimp Balls

Made with spicy seasoned shrimp and no fillers, piquant shrimp balls are the perfect Mardi Gras or party appetizer. A little dipping sauce with pickled okra completes the dish.

I feel sorry for folks who don’t grow up near an ocean. It’s not just that they seldom, or sometimes never, felt the sand between their toes or built dribble castles as children, but they also often missed out on seafood as a normal, typical dinner option. It’s saved for special occasions and restaurant meals. Which is a shame.

At our house, we eat a lot of seafood! Everything from fancy-ish main course recipes like Trout en Croute, Fennel Orange Cod en Papillote and Meyer Lemon Butter Sauce Prawns to appetizers like Mini Party Crab Cakes and Squid with Garlic Chili Oil, to down home favorites like Pan-Fried Fresh Sardines, Ceviche and Spicy Salmon Shrimp Burgers. Oh, and since it's Mardi Gras time, I should mention my Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp and Shrimp Creole! Those are just a drop in the bucket. I could go on but I think you get the point. These piquant shrimp balls are one of my favorites.

Making piquant shrimp balls is super easy! The secret to making balls with no fillers or egg is to use a food processor on half of the shrimp, then stir in the remaining shrimp, roughly chopped. Pan-fry the balls with a little olive oil for a golden exterior and your family and friends will be asking you to double the recipe next time. I promise.

Ingredients - for 2 dozen piquant shrimp balls
Good handful flat leaf parsley leaves and tender stems (pinch off hard stems and discard)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-2 red hot chili peppers
2 medium cloves garlic
1 lb 2oz or 510g peeled, cleaned fresh shrimp
Olive oil for pan frying

For the dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon whole grained mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 hot pickled okra, stem end removed, finely minced (sub small cornichons or capers, if desired)

Make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Cut the peppers and garlic into pieces then process with the parsley and salt until finely minced.

Add in half of the shrimp and process until chopped fairly finely. You are looking for a chunky paste.

Use a sharp knife to cut the rest of the shrimp into four or five pieces, depending on size.

Tip the seasoned mixture out into a mixing bowl. Mix the cut shrimp well with the seasoned chunky shrimp paste.

Cover a plate snugly with cling film (this makes it easier to get the shrimp balls off the plate) and use a tablespoon to divide the mixture into about 24 pieces.

Dampen your hands with water and roll the pieces into balls and place them in a non-stick pan with a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook over a medium high heat with a splatter guard on top. Once the shrimp balls are cooked enough to be firm, turn them over and keep cooking, shaking the pan occasionally, until all sides are golden and the shrimp balls are cooked through. This takes just a few minutes.

Serve hot with toothpicks and the dipping sauce. Sprinkle on a little extra chopped parsley for color, if desired.


This week my Sunday Supper tastemakers are sharing their favorite easy Mardi Gras recipes. Whether you are hosting or attending a potluck, we’ve got you covered!

Sunday Supper Easy Mardi Gras Recipes


Main Dishes



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Friday, January 20, 2017

Cheesy Shrimp Spinach Filo Pie #FishFridayFoodies

Crispy outside and savory inside, a slice of this rich cheesy shrimp spinach filo pie makes a great main course or addition to a brunch table.

Traditional fish pie with a creamy sauce, topped with mashed potatoes or puff pastry is one of our favorite things to eat, especially in a cozy pub on a chilly day. So when our organizer, Wendy of A Day in the Life on a Farm asked for host volunteers, I stepped forward thinking January would be the perfect time for a rich fish pie.

And, indeed, we are experiencing a bit of a chill here in Dubai. But, I’ll be honest, it’s not that cold. Also, from another project, I had some leftover filo pastry in the freezer that needed using up. If you’ve ever worked with filo, you know it can crack and break. But what I’ve figured out is that if you use the relatively whole pieces to make the bottom of the crust, you can just keep layering the small pieces and brushing them with butter and they come together nicely to complete a crunchy top.

Note: Keep the filo pastry covered with a damp cloth, removing one piece at a time as you layer the crust.

Olive oil for pan
Filo (sometimes spelled phyllo) pastry sheets – about 4 oz or 113g
2-3 large handfuls baby leaf spinach - don’t get hung up on weight. Just toss it in.
Sea salt - I use the fine stuff
Black pepper
12 oz or 350g shrimp, already peeled and cleaned
5 eggs
7 oz or 200g feta, crumbled
2 oz or 57g extra sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted and cooled
Zest 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried herbs - I like a mix of thyme and marjoram
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

In a medium saucepan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and add in your spinach with a sprinkle of salt and a good couple of grinds of black pepper.

Cook for a few minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the pan and drain in a colander.

Add another drizzle of oil to the pan and cook the shrimp until pink, again adding a sprinkle of salt and a good couple of grinds of black pepper. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, add your eggs, feta, cheddar cheese, lemon zest, herbs and some black pepper. Whisk to combine.

Fold in the drained spinach and the shrimp and add some more black pepper and cayenne, if desired.

Brush the bottom of your baking pan with butter. Layer your filo sheets one at a time, into the pan, brushing them with the melted butter before adding the next sheet. I had about 3 relatively intact sheets and lots of bits. Leave the ends hanging over the sides.

Pour in the filling and smooth out the top. Start laying the bits of filo on top, brushing with butter as you go.

Just keep adding filo and buttering until the top is a few layers thick.

Finally fold the overhanging filo sheets over the filling, covering the top as best you can. Brush the top and around the sides with more butter and use any broken pieces of filo to cover any holes in the top.

Use a sharp knife to make a vent hole in the middle of the pie so steam can get out and your filo will get crispy.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. If it’s browning too quickly, you can cover the top with foil.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 15-20 minutes before attempting to slice it.


Are you a fan of fish or seafood pies too? Then you are going to love this linky list! Click on the photos to see the recipes.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Mediterranean Eggplant Poppers #FishFridayFoodies

Mediterranean eggplant poppers combine the lovely flavors of za’atar, roasted eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes for a great appetizer your guests will love. They are even more special topped with shrimp.

When I have the time, I like to head to the big hypermarket not too far from my house and wander around the fresh produce section looking for inspiration. They carry an amazing selection of fruit and vegetables from near and far, all shiny, bright, colorful and clearly full of nutrition and vitamins.

Just a couple of days ago, I came across the loveliest little eggplants there. I shifted through them looking for the smallest ones, trying to select ones of similar size, with good stems still attached. Right there, in my head, I made up this recipe. Like this: What goes with eggplant? Garlic and tomatoes. What goes with garlic and tomatoes? Mozzarella, of course. And because today I am joining the Fish Friday Foodies in sharing appetizers, I decided to top the whole lot with some seasoned shrimp.

And that is the weird and wonderful way my brain works.

8 small eggplants
2 cloves garlic
Generous handful parsley, plus more to garnish, if desired
olive oil
2 teaspoons za’atar
1 ball fresh mozzarella (about 4.4 oz or 125g)
4-5 grape tomatoes
16 cooked medium-sized shrimp

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Scrub the little eggplants clean then cut them in half, trying to split the stem as well. Scoop out the insides, chop and set aside. I use a melon baller for the scooping. Put them in a baking pan.

Mince the garlic cloves and chop the parsley finely.

Cook the eggplant insides in a small pan with a good drizzle olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper plus one teaspoon of the za’atar. When all of the water has cooked out of the eggplant and it’s browning, add in the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Tip in the parsley and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until the parsley wilts. Taste the filling and add more salt, if necessary. Remove from the heat.

Cut the mozzarella ball into thin circles. Fit them into the eggplant halves. Add the filling, dividing it between the eggplants.

Slice the grape tomatoes and put one slice on top of the filling. Drizzle on some olive oil.

Roast in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggplants start to slump a little and are browned around the edges. Some leakage happens but when you scrape those bits up with a metal spatula, you get to eat them. Score! Make sure you are in the kitchen alone when these come out of the oven and you won't even have to share that bonus.

Meanwhile, dry your shrimp and put them in a small bowl. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and toss them around to coat. Add the last teaspoon of za’atar and toss again.

Note: There are various za'atar recipes. I prefer what's known as Lebanese za'atar but you can use your favorite.

Ignore the little tails on the shrimp. I did remove those before I put the shrimp on the eggplant poppers.

Remove the baking pan from the oven and top each eggplant with one shrimp. Pop the pan back in the oven for another five minutes to warm the shrimp through.

Serve warm, sprinkled with a little more chopped parsley, if desired.

For a vegetarian option, skip the shrimp step. We love shrimp but these Mediterranean Eggplant Poppers are fabulous even without them. And they are just as pretty. Here they are pre-shrimp.

Update: Just ate a leftover eggplant popper straight out of the refrigerator. They are even good cold.


Many thanks to this month’s Fish Friday Foodie host, Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm. If you are looking for creative holiday appetizers or first courses with seafood, you’ve come to the right place!

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Coconut Curry Shrimp Noodles #FishFridayFoodies

When you have a craving for curry laksa noodles but don’t have the time, this quick spicy coconut curry shrimp pasta hits the perfect spot.

Last year around this time, my husband and I took off for a long weekend in the Seychelles. We booked a place online that looked idyllic, and indeed it proved to be. Set on a lush green hillside overlooking a gorgeous blue-green bay of the Indian Ocean, it was a one-bedroom chalet with a huge porch and a small, but well-equipped kitchen.

One of my favorite adventures in a new place is to explore the local markets and cook with local ingredients. To save from needing to buy essentials in a place where much is imported, I had done a little research to discover what we could bring safely and packed a cooler and a small suitcase with things like pasta and coffee.  The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands so I felt fairly certain seafood would be abundantly available. I had in mind a fish curry for dinner one of our nights, so I brought Thai red curry paste and a packet of coconut milk powder.

The view from our porch

We found local markets without a problem, even a couple that were roadside stands attached to farms, where we bought produce and fresh eggs mere steps from where they were produced. Score! Despite the Indian Ocean all the way around the island of Mahé where we were staying, fish and seafood were hard to find! We didn't know if they were exporting it all or if no one could be bothered to fish for a living but we eventually found a bag of frozen shrimp in a little supermarket to make the seafood curry. You’ll never guess where it came from. Yep, the United Arab Emirates. I should have just brought it from home in my cooler. It would have been way cheaper.

We did manage, finally, to eat local seafood at a seaside restaurant one evening so perhaps they know some fishermen personally. Also, we arrived at the central market in Victoria late one afternoon and there seemed to be a fish counter there, although it was empty, save a few leftover fish from that morning, clearly past their best. I can only hope it's better stocked first thing in the morning.

The mostly-missing seafood mystery aside, I can highly recommend the Seychelles for a holiday. The beaches are gorgeous, colorful fragrant flowers fill the roadsides and forests, the local dishes are tasty, the beer is great and the people are very friendly. We rented a car and explored the island, finding gorgeous little coves to swim in where we felt like we were the only people on the island. Idyllic indeed.

Anyhoo, that’s a long story for a dish that takes mere minutes to make. Since that night in the Seychelles when we dined on UAE shrimp and sipped on chilled Seybrew lager, I’ve made this dish many times, most recently just two nights ago. It’s become a firm family favorite.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red curry paste (I use 3 heaped spoons – we like things spicy.)
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 1/2 lb or 675g shrimp, already peeled and cleaned
8 oz or 225g thin noodles
Fine sea salt
1 14 oz or 400ml can coconut cream
Good handful cilantro, chopped

Sauté the onion with olive oil and curry paste in a pan that’s going to be big enough to hold all of the ingredients later.

Once the onion has softened, add 1 1/2 cup or 360ml water with a teaspoon of salt and the noodles. Cook over a low flame with lid on for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the shrimp with another sprinkle of salt.

Cover again and cook until shrimp are pink and the noodles are done. Give the whole thing a stir.

Pour in the coconut cream and stir to combine.

Cook at little longer, until the dish is heated through again. Try not to let it come to a boil though.

Stir and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Stir some of the cilantro into the dish then garnish with the rest.


As the nights turn chillier in many places, my Fish Friday Foodie friends are sharing seafood pasta dishes that should help you warm up. Many thanks to our host this month, Caroline of Caroline’s Cooking! Check out all our creative pasta dishes.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bacon-wrapped Shrimp Jalapeño Poppers

Bacon-wrapped Shrimp Jalapeño Poppers are made with four of my favorite things: spicy jalapeños, sharp cheese, pan-fried shrimp and bacon. They are super easy to put together and bake up crispy in the oven. Make them ahead of time and bake when you are ready to serve.

My grocery stores here in Dubai are hit or miss when it comes to some ingredients. All year-round we can find the little red chili peppers that are often used in Asian cooking but habaneros and jalapeños turn up less frequently. I’ve learned over the last almost four years of living here to take advantage, and quickly, when I see those two.

I make my own habanero sauce that we eat on just about everything so I buy the peppers, remove the stems and wash them immediately. Then I freeze them in a Ziploc bag until I am ready to make sauce. Making habanero sauce requires weather cool enough to open the windows and doors to let some fresh air in and that won’t happen here until a little later in the year.

When decent-sized jalapeños appear, I make poppers. Traditional jalapeño poppers are filled with cheese, breaded and deep-fried but for many years, I’ve been either breading and baking mine, or wrapping them in bacon and baking them. Either way makes a fabulous, delicious jalapeño popper.

I’ve been on kind of a shrimp kick lately, with last week’s bacon-wrapped spicy baked shrimp and spicy salmon shrimp burgers on this blog and, even today, make sure you check out my Cucumber Shrimp Cups on the Sunday Supper Movement website. They are pretty and tasty!

When there were jalapeños in my local grocery store and Sunday Supper announced a football food theme, I knew what I had to do! Add shrimp to my bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers as well. Best decision ever! If you are gearing up for football season, you'll want to make these and possibly everything else on the list below. Let the games begin!

24 medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 oz or 100g cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 oz or 100g extra sharp cheddar, grated
2 cloves garlic, garlic pressed or very finely minced
12 fresh jalapeños
12 slices streaky bacon

Preheat your oven to 425°F or 218°C.

Heat a skillet and drizzle in the olive oil. Quickly cook the shrimp for a few minutes, sprinkling them with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise. I like to cut carefully through the stem as well so each half still looks like it has a stem.

Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and membranes. If you don’t like things too spicy, you can discard these. I like to add them to the cheese filling.

Mix together the cream cheese, cheddar, garlic and salt. Chop the membranes of the jalapeños and add them in along with the seeds, if desired. Give the whole bowl a few good grinds of black pepper and mix again.

Fill the jalapeño halves with the cheese mixture. Top them with a shrimp each. Cut the bacon slices in two and wrap one around each shrimp topped jalapeño popper.  Secure the bacon with a toothpick.

Set them in a baking pan.

Bake for 20 minutes in your preheated oven or until bacon is crispy and cheese is turning golden as well.


Many thanks to our host today, Coleen of The Redhead Baker and our event manager, Shelby of Grumpy's Honeybunch. How I wish I could get together with all my Sunday Supper friends to watch football. Who am I kidding? I really just want to eat all these fabulous dishes!

Main Dishes
Side Dishes

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