Like Nantucket bay scallops, these tiny, succulent shrimp from Maine pack a lot of delicately sweet flavor into a small package. They’re usually available only from late January through early March (look for them now at your local Wild Edibles store) and are good enough to eat raw with a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of sea salt. But cooking them quickly and tossing them with fennel and cremini mushrooms—as Jonathan Waxman does at Barbuto—is an even better way to go.
Barbuto’s Sweet Maine Shrimp with Fennel and Cremini Mushrooms
11/2 pounds unpeeled whole Maine shrimp
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms
1 small fennel bulb
1/2 Meyer lemon
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Illustrations by John Burgoyne.
(1) Twist heads off shrimp, then peel and rinse under cold water. Wipe mushrooms with a paper towel to clean.
(2) Cut fennel bulb in half and remove core. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in an 8-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Using a mandoline, benriner cutter, or sharp knife, shave the fennel and mushrooms into a small bowl.
(3) Add shrimp to pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for two minutes, no longer. Add shrimp to bowl with fennel and mushrooms, squeeze lemon over the mixture, and toss well. Add three tablespoons olive oil and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.