Saturday, March 9, 2013
I lived in Southern California for about 15 years. I will say during that time I wasn't quite as into food as I am now and my likes were pretty basic. Even with that it wasn't very often that I found a restaurant that really made an impression. I was a big fan of Tito's Tacos in Culver City. They sell basic, crispy tacos by the boat load. People would line up before they opened and there would be a line when they closed the doors. The tacos were basic, good and consistent. Their salsa was great, burritos were excellent and they had this cold, runny avocado sauce that they called guacamole that was extremely popular. People would walk out of there with boxes of tacos. We would make the short trek there for lunch and bring back a couple dozen to snack on for the rest of the afternoon. From what I understand Tito's is still going strong and probably outsells all those trendy taco trucks in LA. If you are in the Los Angeles area and feel like some tacos, I highly recommend them. Tito's Tacos Website
I never would have guessed that this little hole in the wall back in the corner on the second floor of a strip mall would have created a dish that I would consider my favorite shrimp dish ever. But they did. I was only able to enjoy this pleasure a few times before I moved out of the area and let it slip my mind. By the time I came around and wanted to go back they had closed. I tried a few other places that served similar dishes but none were ever quite as good.
And so time passed, I moved back to Texas and find myself more into food than ever. I happened to follow a couple of "SoCal" food critics and newspaper folks on Twitter and I caught a mention that my old favorite was back in business. I did a quick google of the name and there they were, "Killer Shrimp". It got me thinking that maybe now that I know a few things that I could possibly recreate the dish that had so long ago. I searched for recipes and found several knock offs that seemed like they might be correct. I took the basics from each one and gave it a try. The results were EXCELLENT! It had been so long that I am not sure exactly how the broth tasted but this one was good. It was very good. I don't know if its even close to what they were making but I will definitely be making this again and I already have ideas for variations using the same broth. Hopefully you will try this and like it as much as I did. Killer Shrimp Website
40 oz Low Sodium Chicken Stock
6-8 oz Clam Broth or Clam Juice
1 tbsp Dried Rosemary
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Celery Seed
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed and minced
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 stick of Butter
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (more or less depending on the heat you want, 2 tsp was nice and spicy)
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 - 1 1/2 lbs 21-25 shrimp, deviened (you can peel them or leave the peel on, I say leave the shell on)
1 large loaf of French Bread, torn or sliced into large chunks
Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind up the rosemary, thyme, celery seed, black pepper and red pepper. Put the ground spices/herbs into a 4 qt stock pot along with the rest of the ingredients except for the shrimp. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 1 hour but if you can let it simmer for 2-3 hours it will be even better. Cover with a lid while simmering but leave it cracked open a just a little.
When you are ready to serve bring the heat up just a little so that the broth is just about to boil again. Add all the shrimp and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until the shrimp are almost done. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Serve this family style with the bread on the side for dipping. Give everyone a bowl and use a large spoon or ladle to serve. This is finger food. Pick the shrimp out of the broth with your fingers, peel it and eat it. Use the bread to sop up the sauce left in your bowl. You might get a little sweat on your forehead depending on how much red pepper you used.
I hope you enjoy this.
Some variations I am thinking of.....
a) Thicken the broth just a little with a roux and add some sausage.
b) Before adding the shrimp add a cup of rice. Cook until the rice is done then add the shrimp.
c) Add Scallops and Crawfish along with the shrimp