Camarones en Escabeche - Pickled Shrimp

Pickled shrimp, marinated shrimp, take your pick. In our culture it's all the same. Escabeche refers to placing cooked (or partially cooked) seafood into a marinade. That's where the pickling comes in. In  Criollo (Puerto Rican cuisine) we pickle fish, usually swordfish or kingfish steaks, and  shrimp. In terms of fish steaks, we cook them first in olive oil, and then marinate them. Shrimp follow the same pattern in that we first boil them lightly and then proceed with the marinade.

A basic Criollo marinade consists of olive oil, red onions, garlic, pimento stuffed Spanish olives, oregano, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. We mix it in a bowl, add the par-boiled shrimp and let the thing sit overnight, and that's it.. In Spain, they do it differently, and that's the recipe given below. They omit the Spanish olives, oregano, cilantro, and lime juice. In a way, it's a simpler recipe. The only other difference is that bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns are simmer first, then added to the marinade ingredients. In all cases, par-boiling, followed by marinating gives the shrimp their tender-firm texture. We serve pickled shrimp with steamed rice. That's the favorite accompaniment. With a bottle of sauvignon blanc or soave, it can't be beat.

             (Pickled Shrimp)

1 small red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced cosswise
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can leave the tail intact, if desired)

1. In a shallow bowl, mix together the onion, vinegar, oregano, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan or skillet, simmer on low the olive oil, bay leaves, garlic and pepper for 10 minutes. Then set aside until ready to use.
3. In a pan or pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook on high heat for 2 minutes.
4. Drain and combine in a bowl (or a zip-lock bag) with the onion mixture along with the oil mixture. Mix well.
5. Store covered bowl (or zip-lock bag) in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight. Discard the bay leaves and serve shrimp cold or at room temperature.
    Yield: 4 servings. 

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