may 10, 2013
Living less than two hours from the Atlantic coast, I take for granted the access to fresh seafood. Folks in America’s middle surely find seafood in their markets and on their plates, but coastal citizens have the privilege of enjoying seafood hours to a few days from harvest.
Here in Virginia we reap the benefits of seafood seasonality with spring being prime time for succulent shad roe and glistening soft shell crabs. There are limits here on flounder and rockfish catches – a good thing, since we would suffer deep disappointment if overfishing destroyed nature’s stocks, like the frenzied run on redfish when the “blackening” craze struck in the not too distant past. For The Good Eats Company personal chef menus, I rarely specify type of fish in the entrees, opting instead to pick up what is most fresh and beautiful in the market for each client, and hoping always to take home that which is from our nearby Chesapeake bay and Atlantic coast.
Last Saturday was the opening day of the South of The James Farmers Market at Forest Hill Park. A riot of aromas, colors and sounds, the market brings in hundreds, perhaps thousands, each Saturday morning until it closes for the season in early December, when a few hardy souls offer their wares at the Winter Market at a nearby elementary school.
A guitar bangin’ blues singer greets you on arrival and more bands take to a small stage in the midst of myriad stalls selling local produce, humanely produced meats and poultry, plants and crafts. Food truck operators offer to fill your belly. You wade through throngs of shoppers with their happy, well behaved dogs and kids and start the rounds, excited to view what’s available and in season.
Barham Seafood‘s market tent had pretty Carolina coast shrimp, as well as dry scallops and oysters. When shrimp are running, take advantage of the superior texture, taste and sweetness of local domestic shrimp untouched by chemical shell softeners or preservatives. I prefer the medium sized shrimp for their tenderness and flavor; one sniff of their briny goodness led me to this spring entree with asparagus and baby peas. This is super easy, tasty and pretty on the plate. Lemon is a natural partner for most things seafood. After giving my garden thyme a proper haircut in early spring, it bounced back with lush growth and herby greenness. And garlic, well, garlic goes well with everything except dessert, although when I find fresh bulbs at the market later in the season, I may have to amend my opinion and cook up a sweet garlic treat for a future post.
lemon garlic shrimp with asparagus and baby peas
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
one pound fresh medium shrimp(31-40 count), peeled and deveined
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 t fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup baby peas, fresh or, if frozen, defrosted
1 generous cup sliced fresh asparagus
juice and zest of one large lemon
fine sea salt – I like Baleine
finely ground white pepper
- In heavy large saute pan, melt oil and butter over medium heat.
- Add garlic and thyme, stirring for about 2 minutes over medium to medium low heat, until garlic is tender but not browned.
- Add asparagus and peas, stir to coat, and cover, cooking for about 2 minutes or until asparagus is just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
- Increase heat to high, scatter shrimp over vegetables and add pinches of salt and pepper, and stir just until shrimp is beginning to curl.
- Add lemon juice and cook 30-60 seconds more, until shrimp is pink and just cooked through.
- Plate immediately and garnish with lemon zest.