Shrimp cooked in an anise-flavored liqueur is perfect for this festive season. Serve it for a weeknight or weekend dinner.
I learned to like this liqueur, usually Pernod or Ricard, in Paris, where it was a popular aperitif at our local brasserie. It’s also an excellent flavoring for shellfish.
Tarragon also has an anise flavor, and tarragon rice adds to the French flavor of this meal. Here’s how to make it:
Heat 1 package microwaveable white rice according to directions. Measure out 11/2 cups (save the rest for another use). Toss the rice with about 1 cup cubed ripe tomato (from 1 small tomato), 2 teaspoons canola oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried) and salt and pepper to taste.
Wine tip: These exotic flavors call for an exotic wine. Try a white Gewurztraminer.
Buy small: Liqueurs are often available in miniature bottles.
Substitutions: If fennel isn’t available, use sliced celery instead. Onion can be substituted for shallots. Dry vermouth can be used instead of Pernod. The flavor will be different, but very good.
Nutrition: This meal contains 589 calories per serving with 30 percent of calories from fat.
To buy: 1 shallot, 1 fennel bulb, 3/4 pound peeled shrimp, 1 small bottle Pernod or Ricard, 1 small container heavy cream, 1 package microwaveable white rice, 1 small tomato, 1 small bunch fresh tarragon or 1 bottle dried.
Staples: Canola oil, salt and black peppercorns.
PERNOD SHRIMP 2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots
2 cups sliced fennel bulb
3/4 pound peeled shrimp
1/4 cup Pernod or Ricard
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and fennel and saute 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add shrimp and saute another minute, tossing them in the pan. Pour in the Pernod and flambe. Do this carefully: As soon as Pernod is hot, tip the pan and let the liqueur catch the gas flame. If using an electric stove, ignite with a match. Remove from the heat while flame dies down. Be sure to have a cover nearby as a safety measure.
Return to the heat and add water. Let shrimp simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until they turn pink. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon. Raise the heat and reduce the juices in the pan by half. Add the cream and cook on low 1 minute. Return shrimp to the pan and turn over in the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide between 2 dinner plates.
Nutrition information per serving: 382 calories (31 percent from fat), 13.1 g fat (4.3 g saturated, 4.9 g monounsaturated), 278 mg cholesterol, 36.5 g protein, 11.7 g carbohydrates, 2.7 g fiber, 305 mg sodium.Yield: Makes 2 servings