Friday, January 27, 2006

41 Shrimp at a Time

I used to be the world's slowest cook.

Though I'm still no speed demon, lots of practice has helped me quicken my pace. I genuinely enjoy the process, so I like to savor the experience of cooking -- but as Kramer said on Seinfeld, sometimes it's enough already and you just want to get some sleep.

I decided I'd had enough already of frying multiple batches of shrimp, so tonight I pulled out my two biggest skillets to do the job all at once. First I had to bread the shrimp, of course -- 41 of 'em to be exact. That takes a while, so I was lucky that Margy came home to help me out. As I dredged and dipped, my fingertips were growing fatter by the second, breaded themselves with flour, egg, and panko crumbs.

When the shrimp were ready to cook, I heated the two pans over high flames, since you want to fry fast and hot and get a nice crunch. I coated the pans with peanut oil, and the fun began. The whole frying process went like lightning; I could not stop working for even a second, or else some shrimp, somewhere, was going to burn. By the time I had placed the 41st shrimp into the oil in the second pan, it was time to go back and begin flipping the well-browned shrimp in pan #1. It was quite a rush, and standing at my little stove I almost felt like I was in a restaurant kitchen (where, truth be told, things would probably be about ten times more frenzied). Hot oil crackled and sputtered wildly as my tongs flitted from pan to pan. I even wore an apron, which I need to do far more often, since I'm currently finding it hard to track down a shirt lacking in permanent food stains.

Two pans. The way to go. And now we had leftovers.

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