Servings: 6 Prep: 30 mins Cook: 30 min Total: 1 hr
This dish has a somewhat strange origin. It’s actually rooted in my mini-cheesecake recipe, believe it or not!
I had just made a crust with raw macadamia nuts. When I was packing them into the muffin tins, they formed such a compact layer, that I experimented by pushing some of the same crust into a cookie cutter shape, on parchment paper and baked it. The end result was a beautiful and delicious little cracker, in a perfect circle! Granted, it’s VERY fragile, but it holds its shape well enough to be kind of a fun way to play with nuts.
Because I knew Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, this seemed like a good place to use the idea. I pushed the macadamia nuts into heart shaped cookie cutters and baked them. They unmolded beautifully! Then, I knew I wanted shrimp. Two little shrimp, twisted and tangled together, where you can’t tell which one is which is a nice romantic image, especially when they’re leaning on a heart shaped cracker. Then, I thought about the watercress. This has a little heat to it, which translates to a little tickle of the tongue. I like a little added oral sensation when romance is on the mind! The aioli came about to just add a little more creamy fat to the dish and the smoked paprika? Well, the cracker made me think of chips and smoked paprika always makes me think of BBQ flavored chips. I like chips. Seemed like a fun one to throw at the dish.
Not a perfect or totally coherent string of thoughts, but the end result was lovely and quite delicious!
Smoked Paprika Shrimp with Macadamia Cracker and WatercressPrint Rate
- 2 cups macadamia nuts raw
- 1 tsp brown sugar equivalent
- 2 tbsp fresh whole butter melted
- 1 dash salt
- 3 cups watercress
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 each garlic cloves
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Smoked Paprika Shrimp
- 1 1/2 lb shrimp (16/20) peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 325 F.
- If your macadamia nuts are not crushed, place them in a large plastic (ZipLoc style) bag. With a mallet or the edge of a pot or pan, whack at them until you have a squooshed bag of macadamia explosion.
- Pour your crushed macadamias into a mixing bowl and add your brown sugar equivalent (if you don't have this, you can omit it, or use a nice molasses. It helps to hold the crust together), and melted butter. Mix the ingredients until the macadamias are well coated with the sugar and butter.
- Grease the inside of 6 heart shaped metal cookie cutters.
- Place the cookie cutters onto a parchment covered cookie tray.
- Use the back of a spoon (or a tamper, if you have one) to press the crusts firmly into the base of the cups. This must be FIRM. Compact these very strongly, to make a solid shape (ESPECIALLY if you omit the molasses or brown sugar).
- Bake the crusts for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove and set aside to cool.
- Place a pot of water on the stove to boil. Salt the water.
- Get a bowl full of ice water and set it aside.
- Plunge most of your watercress into the boiling salted water. Boil for about 30 seconds, or until the watercress has cooked.
- Immediately strain it and plunge it into the ice water, where it needs to chill down.
- Once the watercress has completely chilled, remove it from the ice water and squeeze it into a little ball, squeezing out all the excess ice water. The end result should be a fairly dry lump compressed cooked watercress.
- Add this lump to a food processor with your mayo and garlic. Puree for about 2 minutes. If this mixture is too thick, you can add a small amount of water, vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Add very small amounts, like 1/4 tsp to adjust. This should result in a slightly peppery, very green and lovely watercress aioli. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine your smoked paprika, lemon juice and oil.
- Add your shrimp to the oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Pre-heat a large sauté pan. Saute your shrimp, oil and all, until the shrimp are cooked through (but not rubbery). About 4 minutes.
- Remove the shrimp and set on a plate to briefly cool. Save the oil in the pan.
- On 6 plates, place a dollop of the watercress aioli. Also, place a few sprigs of watercress.
- Place your macadamia crackers on top of the watercress.
- Quickly intertwine shrimp couple and place a pair on each plate.
- Drizzle a little of the remaining shrimp/smoked paprika oil from the sauté pan over the shrimp.
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