George Mendes is chef/owner of New York’s highly acclaimed restaurant Aldea and a contestant on the current round of Top Chef Masters. But Food Republic tapped him for a primer on Portuguese cooking, eating, and drinking.
Still, we couldn’t resist asking for a recipe for his amazingly flavorful shrimp alhinho dish, which we’ve had at Aldea a number of times. Our new goal in life is to try this recipe and see how we do at home.
Why don’t you do the same and tell us how it goes in the comments.
- 2 shrimp, heads
- canola oil, as needed
- 1/2 onion sliced thin
- 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
- 2 celery ribs, sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 star anise
- 1 tablespoon saffron
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup pernod
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- water, enough to cover the mixture
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- 2 sprigs parsley
- .2% xanthan gum****
- 16 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon pimenton
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Paprika filament, for garnish
- Micro cilantro, for garnish
Make shrimp essence:
- Toast the shrimp heads in a thin layer of canola oil.
- Add mire poix of onion, fennel, and celery and spices, and sweat over heat until soft.
- Deglaze first with the brandy, then with the pernod.
- Add butter and tomato paste and cook two minutes. Cover with water and simmer 30 minutes. Take off the stove, add the herbs, and infuse 15 minutes. Pass through a food mill, then strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.
- Allow to cool, then add .2% xantham gum by total weight of the sauce and buzz with a beurre mixer.
- Season and sear the shrimp in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil for 30 seconds on each side to caramelize. Remove from pan, set aside.
- Lower the heat and add the remaining olive oil and minced garlic. Cook the garlic slowly, shaking pan, until golden. Add the pimenton and mix well. Return the shrimp to the pan and let cook another minute on each side. Add the chopped parsley, cilantro, and lemon juice.
Heat the shrimp essence. Place 4 shrimp in center of each plate. Spoon a small amount of the garlic-olive oil mixture over the shrimp and then a spoon of the essence on top of and around the shrimp. Top with paprika filaments and the micro cilantro. Serve.