After much soul-searching, I’ve come to a crucial realization about myself, one that maybe can unlock the key to my psyche and help me lead the life I was born to lead.

I like boldly seasoned shrimp.

I want them on fire, doused in tequila, tikka masala‘ed. I want them to end their little shrimpy lives in a blaze of glory, full of zest and flavor. It makes me sad to see a pallid boiled shrimp cocktail, with a sad little dipping sauce. Shrimps, you deserve better. You deserve to be gussied up with mustard and dill and garlic and shallots and served at a fantastic restaurant with a chef who, even if he was edited to be a misogynistic jerk, was nevertheless pretty good on Top Chef.

The life they were born to lead.

But shrimps, you also deserve better than a recipe that doesn’t really make any sense—a recipe that describes as “slow-poaching” a process that takes two minutes and involves almost no liquid. (Am I missing something? To my mind, that is neither “slow” nor “poached.”) A recipe with a photograph that clearly shows a sauce—but which, again, involves almost no liquid. I’ve tried this recipe twice now and have come to the conclusion that it must just be badly written, even though the end result is delicious. (I suspect that part of why it’s so flavorful is that the shrimp are cooked over low heat, which allows them more time to get flavor from the other ingredients.) I also have no idea if this is what the dish tastes like at Zaytinya—I’ve always been too busy drooling over the vegetables to try the shrimp. Furthermore, I have no idea what about this recipe is Middle Eastern or Mediterranean, since the mustard and dill strike me as more, well, Scandinavian.

Nevertheless, these boldly flavored shrimp are delicious, and you should make them.

Shrimp with mustard and dill
Adapted from Zaytinya

1 shallot, minced
1/2 pound shrimp (large, preferably), peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced dill
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed

In a sauté pan set over medium-low heat, sweat the shallot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and sauté briefly until the shrimp start to turn slightly opaque but are still transparent in the middle. Add the garlic and mustard to the pan and sauté until shrimp are nearly cooked through.

When the shrimp are almost done, add the lemon juice, tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, dill, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for another minute, then add the butter to the pan to create a sauce. Swirl the pan until the sauce becomes creamy. Garnish with more dill and serve.

Serves 2.

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