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Ale-Poached Shrimp with Saffron Sauce

Here, Luca Cerato poaches shrimp in the juniper-and-chamomile-spiced Belgian-style blond ale made by the CitaBiunda brewery. The shrimp are so richly flavored and delicious that they need little enhancement beyond the blanched asparagus and simple saffron-cream sauce he serves with them. (They would also be great served chilled, with cocktail sauce.)

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium broth
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Two 12-ounce bottles Belgian-style blond ale, such as Leffe
  • 1 1/4 pounds shelled and deveined large shrimp, tails left on
  • 1 pound thick asparagus—woody ends trimmed, tips halved lengthwise and stalks thinly sliced crosswise


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the scallions and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, vegetable stock and saffron and bring just to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to 1 3/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Keep the saffron sauce warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large, deep saucepan, bring the ale just to a simmer. Add the shrimp and poach over moderate heat until they are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate, pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the asparagus pieces until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to paper towels to drain.
  4. Spoon the saffron sauce into shallow bowls, top with the blanched asparagus and poached shrimp and serve.

Make Ahead

The saffron sauce can be refrigerated overnight and gently reheated before serving; add a little water or vegetable stock, if necessary.

Suggested Pairing

A blond ale like CitaBiunda’s Mary or Leffe from Belgium (which is exported to the US) would be delicious with this dish.

Photo © Martin Morrell Published April 2013

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