Sauteed Shrimp with Gremolata and Spiced Butter and Tacos

Let us remember…that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.                                                                                             Christian Wiman.

Happy Poetry Month, y’all. Examined Life, I’m coming your way. For the record, I think Wiman’s sentence would retain its truth if the word food were to be substituted for the word poetry. In the end, we go to food for one reason…


Sauteed Shrimp with Gremolata and Spiced Butter

Adapted from Food and Wine Oct 2013


1/2 tablespoon Madeira (I used brandy)

1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/4 teaspoons ground mace (never realized mace was also a food)

1 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (I’m no fancy pants, couldn’t find this anywhere so I used chili powder)

Kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature


1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 tablespoon minced lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

12 large head-on shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds)—heads and tails left on, bodies shelled and deveined (I only had the little ones at the ready— no big deal, but I cut the spice butter recipe in half)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

MAKE THE SPICED BUTTER In a small bowl, combine the Madeira, lemon juice, mace, piment d’Espelette (or chili powder, if you’re a plebian like me) and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; mix well. Let the spice mixture stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, then mix in the butter.


PREPARE THE GREMOLATA AND SHRIMP In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add half of the shrimp and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add 2 tablespoons of the spiced butter to the skillet and cook until lightly browned; add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and toss to coat the shrimp in the sauce. Using tongs, transfer the shrimp to a serving platter. Strain the butter sauce through a sieve into a small bowl. Repeat with the remaining olive oil, shrimp, lemon juice and 2 more tablespoons of the butter. Season the butter sauce with salt and drizzle it over the shrimp. Top with the gremolata and serve.


Perhaps I misinterpreted these instructions, but I dipped the shrimp in the lemon/garlic/parsley mix and then sautéed them. I thought I had committed a major foul when the skillet began to smell like an old stairwell that had been urinated in—fortunately, the smell burned off as soon as I added the spiced butter. Very unusual combination of spices—almost nutmeg-like taste with the mace.


Also, because I bought a ridiculous amount of shrimp—partly because I miss New Orleans, but also they were on a wicked sale—I also made these shrimp tacos. Now that I think back on it, I wish I had combined the gremolata and the shrimp tacos— So this post is kind of like a Bubba Gump litany of shrimp. Shrimp gremolata, shrimp stew, spiced shrimp, shrimp tacos…

Shrimp Tacos

Adapted from Penzey’s Spices

1-2 Cups shredded kale

1 Cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 Cup chopped onion

2 red fresno chili peppers

1 5-oz can chili peppers in adobo sauce

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup water

4 TB. lime juice

1 tsp. cumin

1/4-1/2 tsp. salt

1/4-1/2 tsp. pepper

1 avocado, diced

1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 TB. Olive oil

2 lbs. medium-sized shrimp, shelled and cleaned

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

18 taco shells

For the salsa: In a large bowl, combine kale tomato and onion. In a blender, combine the arbol chili peppers (remove handles from the peppers, break in half and discard the seeds-be careful to wash your hands after), garlic clove and water. Blend until smooth. Pour over the cabbage and add the lime juice. Mix well. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir well, cover and refrigerate. Add the avocado and cilantro right before serving.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, warm the oil in a medium skillet. Add the shrimp and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp, turning over until they are opaque and turn bright pink-orange, about 6 minutes. Warm the taco shells while the shrimp is cooking. Stuff the taco shells with warm shrimp. Top the tacos with the salsa and serve.

Very VERY spicy, so if you are serving this dish to party guests, be sure to have a mild alternative to the salsa. Otherwise, enjoy the clearance of nasal passages! The kale I substituted for cabbage, because I have something personal against cabbage. I think it was the right choice.

4 thoughts on “Sauteed Shrimp with Gremolata and Spiced Butter and Tacos

  1. Yay for honoring NOLA, and Bubba Gump in your cooking! Also, I am curious about your animosity towards cabbage, a most innocent-seeming vegetable. Do tell, if it’s a story fit for public consumption! 😉

    1. Oh, it’s not as dramatic as my carrot aversion story. Cabbage? I just got hit with one in a New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day parade. Plus, I think they taste nasty.

      1. Oh good, I’m glad that you didn’t endure anything too terribly traumatic to create your less-than-loving feelings towards cabbage! The thought of flying cabbages during the parade further adds to the wild, magical image I am developing of NOLA thanks to your descriptions of parts of your and KP’s life there 🙂

  2. P.S. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard your carrot story, so if you’re up for telling a tale about that, I’d love to hear it sometime!

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