The Shrimp Bucket
As the accompanying blog notes, there are four elements to this fun and delicious dish: the fries, the shrimp, the mojo de ajo (garlic sauce), and the condiments, including sauces and limes. I will deal with each one in turn.
However you decide to make them, how many to make is your choice, although I have found that 4 ounces per person is usually satisfactory.
My very favorite fries are the one-fry version, where you put the potatoes in a skillet with oil, turn the heat to around medium, and let them cook, turning as needed for 20 – 30 minutes. Unfortunately, they take a bit more concentrated effort than most people are willing to expend, especially as part of a dish like the Shrimp Bucket.
But there is another excellent version that can be prepared in advance and flash fried for about 3 minutes just before serving. I found them on the great site, Serious Eats, under the name The Burger Lab: How to Make Perfect Thin and Crisp French Fries. http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/05/the-burger-lab-how-to-make-perfect-mcdonalds-style-french-fries.html. The author claims they are as good as McDonalds’ fires, but I’ve never had anything at McDonalds as good as these fries. They are made by simmering the cut potatoes in water flavored with salt and vinegar, frying them once, and then freezing them, after which they are fried one more time before serving.
If that is too much trouble, just get a bag of frozen fries and either bake or fry them, although I much prefer the latter. All you need is a large pot and a good thermometer.
Again, how many shrimp to prepare is your choice. I usually make 6 per person.
If breading and frying them myself, I like to use the 21 – 25 per pound size, peeled but with the tails left on. To bread them, coat them in all-purpose flour, shake off the excess, and dip them in beaten egg. Allow the excess egg to drip off, and then toss them with Panko Japanese-style crumbs, which produce a crispier result than regular bread crumbs. Refrigerate the breaded shrimp for at least 15 minutes or up to several hours. Fry them, 5 or 6 at a time, in at least 3 cups of cooking oil (I prefer peanut oil) heated to 350 – 375 degrees. Make sure the oil does not go higher than halfway up the cooking pot to avoid dangerous overflows. Drain the shrimp on paper towels and keep them in a warm (175 degree) oven while you cook the remaining shrimp.
The mojo de ajo
The recipe for The Ultimate mojo de ajo produces the best version I have ever had, and it can be made several days in advance. If that doesn’t work for you, just simmer ¼ cup finely chopped garlic in 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium low – medium heat until they are cooked through and just beginning to color lightly.
Like most people, I enjoy catsup with fries and shrimp, but I like to add some minced chipotle and a dash of lime juice. Just include those items to your own taste.
Another great sauce is aioli. My favorite version is to mix ½ cup mayo with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 minced cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika, 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 2 teaspoons minced parsley. If that is too much trouble just get a jar of tartar sauce and add a dash or lime juice and smoked paprika, if you wish.
I always include a dish of lime wedges.
You might add to the above one or two of your favorite salsas.
To serve the dish, pile some fries into a bucket or bowl, top with the shrimp, and spoon on some mojo de ajo and serve with the condiments