Saturday, January 5, 2008

Showered with Shrimp Mosca

A month before my wedding nearly six years ago, my mother hosted a kitchen shower for me at her house. She pulled out the fine china and silver, stacked a multi-tiered glass cake stand high with petit fours and finger sandwiches and served hot tea and an ice cream-based punch to everyone who attended.

A mound of presents wrapped in pastel-hued paper stood at the ready, each of them paired with a recipe that matched the Williams-Sonoma-procured this-and-that concealed within. Little by little, I unwrapped cookie sheets and a recipe for Mexican wedding cookies, pasta bowls and a recipe for Crawfish Monica, an elegant Asian-inspired table runner and a recipe for Thai Red Curry with Shrimp. Though I’ll get to those recipes and more over time in this space, it is the one my mother gave me for Shrimp Mosca that I’ll feature today.

Mom had never cooked Shrimp Mosca for me as a child or adult, so it was the first time I had seen the recipe. But from the sounds of it, it just seemed like one of those perfect last minute dinner party dishes that a newly-married woman could make for a handful of her hungry friends. Simple and zesty, it only requires two pounds of fresh shrimp (don’t use frozen), good olive oil, dry white wine and a cabinet full of the right spices and herbs. Served with crusty French bread (for sopping up those sauces) and a simple green salad, all you’ll need to wash it down is a nice bottle of dry white wine.

Another ideal side: A roll of paper towels, as this is no dish for the prim. Shrimp Mosca is all about peeling and eating at the table, so be ready to get up to your elbows in a mighty fine sauce.

2 pounds unpeeled shrimp
6 or more buds diced garlic
2 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon crushed whole black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup of dry white wine (the drier, the better)
2 oz olive oil

a note: Though Italians would frown on my use of dairy with seafood, I have been known to toss in tablespoon of butter too, from time to time. The butter yields a thicker sauce that makes all that bread dipping a little more decadent.


1. Heat the oil (and butter, if you like) in the frying pan, add shrimp, spices and herbs. Saute for 5-10 minutes.

2. Add wine and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. You want the shrimp to be pink, but not overcooked and tough.

3. Serve with crisp hot bread.

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