Herb-Poached Shrimp with Cauliflower Couscous and Brown Butter
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS
- SERVINGS: 8
- 6 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
- 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon Madras curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 small star anise pod
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Spanish)
- 12 thyme sprigs, tied with string
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
- Freshly ground pepper
- 24 large shrimp (about 1 pound), shelled and deveined
- 1 large head of cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
- 1 apricot, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted pistachios
- 2 small plum tomatoespeeled, seeded and finely diced
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup snipped chives
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the daikon and cook over high heat just until tender, about 5 minutes; drain. Rinse out the saucepan and add the vinegar, sugar, curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Tie the coriander seeds, star anise, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a small piece of cheesecloth, add them to the saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and let the mixture steep for 15 minutes. Transfer the pickling liquid to a large heatproof bowl, add the blanched daikon and let stand at room temperature until cool, or refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
- In another medium saucepan, gently heat the olive oil with the thyme, bay leaves, garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper over low heat just until warm to the touch. Add the shrimp and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until firm and white throughout, about 9 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the shrimp to a plate. Strain the shrimp oil and reserve.
- Meanwhile, trim the cauliflower leaves and stem and discard. Using a serrated knife, shave about 1 inch off the head of cauliflower, leaving the inner stems, core and some inner florets (reserve these for another use). Transfer the cauliflower trimmings to a food processor and pulse until they resemble coarse couscous.
- Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the cauliflower in a fine sieve, pressing hard to extract as much of the water as possible. Wipe out the saucepan and return the cauliflower to it. Add the apricot, basil, pistachios, half of the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the reserved shrimp oil. Season the cauliflower couscous with salt and pepper and keep warm over very low heat.
- Drain the pickled daikon, reserving 1/4 cup of the pickling liquid. In a small saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until browned and nutty, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the reserved 1/4 cup of daikon pickling liquid, the chives and the remaining diced tomato. Season the brown butter mixture lightly with salt and pepper.
- Mound the cauliflower couscous in the center of 8 plates and arrange the shrimp on top. Scatter the pickled daikon around the cauliflower, drizzle the brown butter mixture around the plate and serve.
A creamy Chardonnay with lively, tangy notes, such as one from California's Napa Valley, will complement the buttery shrimp and stand up well to the slight acidity of the pickled daikon.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.