Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sun, Surf, & Shrimp on Sanibel

My family and I just got back from a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. I already miss the warmth of the sun, and I can see why so many people from the north flock to the south in the winter. It makes me wonder why I'm still putting up with the cold.

Sanibel became a much-needed respite for us. Claire got to play in a wading pool for the first time in her little life, and after a few unstable minutes of falling into the water (and her mama stressing out and quickly coming to her rescue), she eventually mastered standing, and then walking in the water. She was so proud of herself. We were too.

Chris got to immerse himself in capturing some of the beauty of the island, which boasts some amazing sunrises and sunsets. (See photo above.)

And as you might expect, Chris and I especially enjoyed the restaurants in Sanibel, the majority of which are mom-and-pop shops that feature a wide selection of amazing fresh seafood such as grouper, shrimp, mahi mahi, sea bass and scallops. I found my favorite dish ever at a restaurant called Doc Ford's. They call it Yucatan Shrimp. I call it Love. This would seriously be the last meal I'd want to eat before I die.

I was so consumed by the dish I forgot to snap a picture, though my wise husband inquired about getting the recipe, which we came to find out had been published as part of a New York Times story on Doc Ford's - the story and a picture are here.

Sanibel was paradise for us, or as close as one can get to paradise with the responsibilities that come with having a 19-month-old in tow.

Of course, going south also makes me want to eat fresh, (healthier) food again, so even though it's cold back here, I'll be trying to recreate our Florida food experiences starting with this amazing dish.

Yucatan Shrimp
(Adapted from Greg Nelson at Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille)

4 T. unsalted butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
Juice of two large limes
1 T. Indonesian Sambal (preferably sambal oelek, by Huy Fong, though sriracha will work as well) - click here for further reading on this ingredient.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. large, fresh shell-on shrimp
1 tsp. jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 T. chopped cilantro
1 baguette

Over low heat, melt 1 T. of butter in a small saucepan. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add remaining 3 T. butter to the saucepan. After it melts, stir in the lime juice, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 mintues or until they are just firm and pink. Don't overcook. Drain into a colander and shake over the sink to remove excess moisture.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp and the butter chili sauce. Add jalapeno, and then sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serves 4, messily. Use baguette to dip into the succulent sauce. You won't want to leave any of that liquid gold behind.

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