While visiting some friends in Boulder this weekend, we had occasion do some serious cooking in their well-outfitted kitchen. With the local farmers market unable to provide much of anything in the way of ingredients, we hit up the local Whole Foods. In addition to finding some things never in stock at our local WF items (flatiron steak, flap meat), we came across some very good looking, never frozen, wild shrimp from Florida. A rare sight, as frozen shrimp make up the lion's share (85% +) of US sales, fresh and wild shrimp are very tender and taste superior to other shrimp we routinely sample. We loaded up two pounds and set forth to compose a simple dish built around them.

Since Mexican was the theme of the evening, we settled on Seared Shrimp with Golden Beets and Cilantro Juice. An appetizer, this plate was sandwiched between guacamole & chips as a nosh and a Carne Asada main. For the Asada, we grilled the aforementioned flap meat (marinated for 1 hour in salt, ground cumin, lime, orange, minced marjoram and chipotle) and served it in corn tortillas with a quick Salsa Verde – recipe here from a previous column.

Seared Shrimp with Golden Beets and Cilantro Juice

1 bunch golden beets, baby beets are preferable
6 sprigs marjoram, thyme or a mix
1 tablespoon coriander
½ teaspoon peppercorns
Sea Salt
2 tablespoons water
2 pounds shrimp – wild and fresh if possible
1 bunch cilantro, washed
¼ cup oil – EV or regular
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar and EV
1 tablespoon butter
½ lime

1) Remove leaves from beets at the base and wash thoroughly, trimming off hairs and bottom as you go.
2) Place herbs on a large piece of foil, rest beets on top of them and cover with coriander, peppercorns, salt and water. Seal up the sides, place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 90 minutes or until tender. Insert a paring knife to determine doneness.
3) Peel shrimp, removing vein and reserving shells. You can make a shrimp stock and replace the water with it later on, or freeze shells for future shrimp stock.
4) Salt shrimp ½ hour prior to cook time, blot dry with paper towels just before cooking.
5) Force the cilantro (including stems which have great flavor) to the bottom of a blender or place it in a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt, oil and water/stock. Puree well.
6) Strain the puree in your finest sieve, no crime if you don’t. If you will not be using the juice right away, deploy the vitamin C chef’s secret. Crack open a tablet and stir the powder in, it slows oxidation and makes sure your juice stays bright green. Adjust for salt.
7) Place an empty metal or glass bowl in the over to warm.
8) Remove beets from oven, let cool, peel and dice into ½ inch cubes. Sprinkle with sea salt, vinegar and oil.
9) Sear shrimp in a blazing hot, dry cast iron pan, adding a thin stream of oil if they start to stick - you will likely need to cook shrimp in at least 2 batches, don’t crowd the pan. Cook about 2 minutes per side. Pull bowl out of the oven, add lime juice and butter, whisking together with some sea salt. Transfer shrimp to bowl and toss as the batches finish.
10) Plate with a puddle of cilantro juice, some scattered beets, shrimp on top, and drizzle shrimp with the liquid that remains at the bottom of the shrimp bowl.

Eat and enjoy.