Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tartar of Shrimp and Artichoke – Antique Appetizer worthy of the Contemporary Chef

Sometimes we associate certain flavors and textures with a region or a period of time. Later we find out that the dish is antique, that the chef’s special recipe has been around for hundreds of years. One such dish is the Tartar of Shrimp and Artichokes. Yes, we would associate shrimp and artichokes with Italy but how does Cilantro get into the mix? Cilantro is an integral part of the Mexican flavorings surely it cannot be part of some antique dish from Sicily. Cilantro in Spanish, Coriander in English and Coriandolo in Italian, is an antique herb grown in the Mediterranean basin for over 3,000 years. It is a vital ingredient in Vermouth (Martini & Rossi) and often used in Sicilian recipes to balance flat leaf parsley, known as Italian parsley.

Initially, I thought it was just a contemporary chef’s attempt to differentiate traditional Sicilian dishes but I found this little treat offered in the most rustic of restaurants in the Sicilian Provinces. I will rarely shy away from an antipasto or salad made with shrimp, particularly with a glass of Prosecco. Tartar of Shrimp and Artichokes is a marvelously simple, quick and flavorful recipe. This Sicilian Appetizer will “wow” your guests and is tremendously easy to prepare.

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 Artichoke hearts
4 Medium to large Shrimp (uncooked, shells on)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 branches Italian Parsley
3 branches Cilantro
1 tsp Walnut Oil
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Egg yolk
½ lemon sliced into wedges


Chop the cilantro and parsley. Cut the artichokes into cubes and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

In a frying pan, heat the Olive Oil. Add the Artichoke cubes and sauté for 1 minute.

Heat another frying pan over medium heat. Sear the shrimp on both sides for 1 minute.

Remove the pans from the heat and set aside.

In a serving or mixing bowl, mix together the shrimp, artichokes, parsley, cilantro, walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Break the Egg yolk and mix into the shrimp-artichoke mix and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

This recipe can also substitute Crawfish for the Shrimp and it becomes a dish from Friuli.

Great with White wines like Grillo Feudo Arancio, Terre Alte Felluga, and Ribolla Gialla.


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