Foodie Friday: Beer-Batter Fried Shrimp!
-Large, shelled and deveined shrimp with tail on (I used 21/25, but larger shrimp like 26/30 work just as well)
-Frying oil (any oil that has a high smoking point - corn or canola oils, for instance; avoid lower temperature oils like olive, which will burn and bitter at such high temperatures)
-Choice of beer (I went with a darker, hazelnut beer from a local brewery)
*Warning: This is a deep fry dish, using large amounts of extremely hot oil. Please observe fire safety and wear appropriate clothing. Use a heat-safe thermometer to monitor the temperature of your oil consistently. If your oil ignites, do not put water on it or attempt to pour it out. Simply turn off the heat and cover with a metal lid and allow the fire to suffocate. If you are burned by the oil, treat the burn immediately. Safety first, even in the kitchen!
1) Fill a pot with oil until it’s deep enough for frying (generally no more than half full) and heat it to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit).
2) While the oil is heating, mix the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Gradually add your beer while constantly stirring until it reaches a smooth, thick batter consistency.
3) Dredge the shrimp in flour, then dip into the batter to coat.
4) CAREFULLY lower the shrimp by the tail into the frying oil. Allow the batter to bloom for a moment before letting it to (the batter needs to puff up a bit; dropping it immediately into the oil will cause it to hit the bottom of the pot and stick).
5) When the shrimp reaches a golden brown color and is floating, lift it out of the oil and use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. It is done when it is at or above 145 degrees. Transfer to a plate with paper towels.
6) Repeat the process for all of the shrimp to be eaten. Serve with cocktail sauce, or tartar sauce! Great as a side dish or on their own!
“I don’t think we can finish all of this shrimp.” In all honesty, this was probably one of the least thought out phrases I have ever said to my boyfriend just before dinner. Though my favorite seafood is lobster, his is most definitely shrimp, and between the two of us, a pound was gone in less than thirty minutes. As one one of the most easily available forms of seafood, and one of the most commonly served, it’s hard to imagine what my life would be like without the little crustacean.
It is also a popular food item that I almost never see mentioned in witchcraft. More often than not, magical dishes featuring shrimp have more of a focus on the herbs and spices, which is understandable, but given that these animals have a role to play in the meal as well, I feel it’s important to explore their significance.
As a food source, shrimp have been fished for centuries, with some evidence of fishing and drying being found in the Americas prior to European colonization, and depictions of shrimp on some of the pottery discovered in Pompeii. However, crustacean middens (remains of shells, et cetera) have been discovered in much earlier, prehistoric sites.
In general, larger shrimp (or prawns, if you’re in Europe) are the targets for fishing, and shrimp trawling was a common practice since the 1500′s. They became far more popular as a food source in California around the 19th century as Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush began fishing shrimp in the San Francisco area. Over time, trawling became the most effective means by which to fish shrimp.
By the 20th century the environmental damage caused by shrimp trawling became more of a concern, as the damage to the sea floor was significant and the practice came with a high rate of bycatch (catching other sea life not desired, such as sea turtles, dolphins, and endangered species of fish and wildlife). As a result, shrimp farming became a far more desirable practice and has since all but replaced the shrimp fishing industry.
The term “shrimp” refers to a rather broad category of long-bodied crustaceans, which fill a variety of roles in the environment. Some are decomposers, while others feed on algae, seaweed, or are even predatory (such as the mantis shrimp, whose fast-moving claws are capable of cracking clam shells). They also are a primary source of food for various sea life, making them a vital part of the environment.
In folklore, shrimp aren’t easy to find. Often they are discussed in tandem with fish, and have developed many of the same associations. However it is important to note that some cultures explicitly forbade the consumption of shellfish, giving them an association with uncleanliness and disease (as in the case of Judaism, in which shrimp and other shellfish are not considered kosher).
From what we know of fish, shrimp can be associated with wealth, luck, and prosperity, and each of these associations are apt. Wealth and prosperity are often linked with animals and plants that are prolific, and shrimp are capable of mass reproduction - the supply of shrimp today tends to outweigh the demand due to the efficiency with which they can be bred. Furthermore, the bright red and pink coloring that shrimp develops when it is cooked can be linked with luck and wealth.
As I’d mentioned before, I hardly ever see any mention of shrimp in magic, so from this point on, I’ll be explaining what I use them for in my own practice.
More often than not, I cook shrimp with the aforementioned intentions, but I can also add frugality and happiness to the list. Shrimp are often in abundance and are one of the least expensive seafood options out there, while still being a rather healthy food depending on how it is prepared. As such, I use them in money-drawing dishes in tandem with spells meant to encourage wise spending habits.
Because shrimp also make for more romantic foods such as shrimp scampi or alfredo, I also associate them with love and happiness, as well as comfort. They’re simple, filling, and romantic while not being as grandiose as lobster.
But there’s more than just the meat that can be used! The shells can be ground up and added to powders linked with the same associations - for love spells or luck spells in particular.
This unassuming food option is not the first to come to mind when “kitchen witchery” is mentioned. It’s humble, rarely seen. But next time you cook up some seafood delight with these decapods, consider what they may bring to your dish, both in flavor and energy. Their uses may surprise you!
May all your meals be blessed! )O(