Cafe Society

Recipe Wednesday: Pickled shrimp

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

Fat Tuesday has come and gone, but Mardi Gras season is still in full swing, and for New Orleans-inspired recipes, Ariss turns to John Besh, the Louisiana-born celebrity chef whose restaurants have made New Orleans a celebrated culinary city.

"Pickled shrimp may seem a little strange, but I've totally fallen in love with Besh's recipe." says Ariss. "Not only is it super-easy to make, but I can think of about a million uses for ready-to-eat shrimp, including bloody Mary garnishes, shrimp salad, tacos with cabbage slaw, folded into an omelette, or just eaten straight from the jar standing in front of the open refrigerator door, which is my favorite way to eat them," admits Ariss.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Lemony cream cheese cookies

The brine, she notes, is "citrus-y and slightly sweet with just a touch of spice, and the vegetables come out crispy and flavorful." Ariss says, too, that while she prefers to use raw shrimp in this recipe, you can also use pre-cooked shrimp. "I like to use raw shrimp and then make a super-flavorful stock from the tails, but if you want to use cooked shrimp, Marczyk's sells cooked shrimp that we boil in-house with our special blend of citrus and spices, and it's the best cooked shrimp you'll ever have," she promises.

Pickled Shrimp (adapted from: Yields about 10 servings

Boiled Shrimp/Shrimp Stock: 2 lbs shrimp 1 onion 3 ribs celery 1 large carrot 8 cups water 2 cups leftover shrimp tails (optional)

Brine: 2 1/2 cups water 2 cups rice wine vinegar Zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons Zest and juice of 1 orange 1/2 cup sugar 5 cloves garlic, sliced 1 T coriander seed 1 T fennel seed 1 T peppercorns 1 T red chile flakes 2 bay leaves Big pinch of kosher salt

Vegetables: 2 carrots, peeled and cut into spears 12 cippolini onions, peeled


First, make your boiled shrimp and stock. Set aside shrimp and combine all the other ingredients in a large pan. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add shrimp. Cook until the shrimp just turns opaque, about 6-9 minutes. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove tails from shrimp once it has cooled, slightly, and add back to the liquid (if not using leftover shrimp tails). Continue to simmer the liquid until it has reduced somewhat and intensified in flavor, about an hour.

For the brine, combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. Allow to cool, slightly.

Pack all the vegetables and shrimp in a very large glass jar, alternating layers. Pour the hot brine into the jar to completely cover ingredients. Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

For more from Ariss, Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website. And be sure to check out Pete's blog and Marczyk Fine Wines.