Does your family have a signature dish for entertaining? This one's been a staple in mine for nearly 20 years. Guests rarely leave without requesting the recipe, and are always surprised to find the rich tomato sauce is so simple.
This recipe started as a London Times recipe for shrimp provencal, calling for shrimp to be baked in a tomato-butter sauce. The recipe travelled to Nairobi, where it migrated from the oven to the stovetop and swapped in cilantro for parsley. In this version, the sauce simmers over low heat until luxuriously thick and flavorful.
The longer it cooks the better. For a quick weeknight meal, the dish can be made "express style," in 20 minutes. On a Sunday afternoon with plenty of time, the sauce can simmer, covered, for an hour or more, growing richer by the minute.
To make ahead, simply leave out the cilantro until you're ready to serve. Covered, the tomato sauce will keep up to a day in the fridge or a week in the freezer. When you're ready for dinner, just reheat the sauce, add the shrimp and cilantro, and serve with a crusty French baguette to mop up all the delicious tomato flavor.
1 pound large shrimp, cleaned and butterflied
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons tomato concentrate (double concentrate, like Cirio, is best)
2 fresh tomatoes, pureed in blender
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large nonstick saucepan or wok, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic, stir two minutes until fragrant. Raise heat to medium, add tomato concentrate, and stir for two more minutes. Turn heat back down to low, add fresh tomato puree and stir to combine. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn heat to high. Add Tabasco, pepper, salt, half the chopped cilantro and shrimp. Stir constantly until shrimp is cooked through, around five minutes. With shell-on shrimp, the shells will turn from transparent to pink when done. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining cilantro and serve with a French baguette.
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(Images: Liz Vidyarthi)