Nature Blog Network

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Dinner and a Drink With an Invert

Invertebrates are not only the most diverse and interesting group of organisms to ever exist, they are also quite tasty! I very much enjoy a good crawdad, some crab cakes, or shrimp cooked in various ways. Once a week we have a pizza night. I often make shrimp and veggie pizza. Here is my recipe for this crustaceous creation!

Here is what you'll need:
1. Ready made pizza crust
2. Pizza sauce, I use Garden variety from Nature's Promise
3. Cheese, shredded. I usually mix several different types depending on what I have on hand
4. Shrimp, I use sustainably harvested arctic shrimp from Canada. They actually taste much better than the larger species from Indonesia. (see Shifting Baselines for a shrimp discussion).
5. Veggies! And lots of them! For this pie I used Zucchini, Avocado, fresh Dill, Chives, Corn and Green Pepper

Put it all together, bake at 400F until brown and crispy and Voila! A delicious shrimp pizza!

Just look at the way that gorgeous crustacean is all nestled in with the avocado, a sprig of dill and luscious melted cheese (a blend of jack, cheddar, parmesan, romano and havarti... just because I can). The red of the tomato sauce really provides a stunning background for what later become a delicious meal.

Now nothing goes down better with Shrimp Pizza than Kevin Z's homemade Aquavit! Its a very simple recipe from a brilliant norwegian cookbook I own called Kitchen of Light. It is a fascinating book, providing great recipes, beautiful photos of Scandinavia, stories and background on several of the meals.

For this you will need:
1. 725mL Vodka, Absolut of course!
2. Lemon, Lime and Orange peel. I use the full peel of lime and orange, but only half the peel of the lemon as my first batch, the lemon was overpowering
3. 1 tablespoon each of Fennel seed and Caraway Seed

I mixed all the ingredients in a separate container, but you can let them marinate in the vodka jar if there is enough room. A couple shots ought to clear out enough space for the ingredients! I let it marinate for 3-4 days in a sunny spot.

The golden color is nice. After it is done marinating, next comes the filtering. I reused some nice bottles a dutch friend and I emptied out over the course of a few months. Oh yummy Beerenburger... why did it have to end!

I filtered the liquid using a funnel and coffee filter. You'll have to remove the rinds periodically. I'll think of a better system later in the year. I am trying to perfect the recipe for my father-in-law's visit from Sweden in October.

The result is golden, smooth treat. This has been providing the liquid inspiration for my Spineless Songs (see sidebar). The aroma is real nice and the hints of fennel and citrus make it a very pleasurable beverage.


  1. ahhh, grad school food science and chemistry... this is bringing back all kinds of memories... remind me to tell you all about our lab developing all sorts of bizarro sourdough yeast strains for the most amazing year of breads i ever enjoyed...

    then there was the microbrewing on the back porch of our cambridge, mass, flat... that fermenter got me through my defense...

    and a kindly reminder that shrimp pizza tastes even better with sustainably harvested arthropods... or try clams... the best!

  2. Our lab has a baking fetish. WE always seem to have breads, pies and cookies around. I guess that what you get with 3 females and 1 male ex-cook.

    Sustainable harvested arctic shrimp are the tastiest ever. I've made the pizza with crab meat too, but it i really difficult to track down the harvesting practices of the crab. I try to avoid the Portunus spp. from Indonesia though.

  3. Y'all should try shrimp and grits too -- a popular delicacy in this neck of the woods. It's even got into the hoity-toity restaurants now.

    P.S. I didn't realize the Norwegians had cookbooks. I thought they jusy ate dried fish pulverized in butter and lye. Guess I've got a lot to learn . . .

  4. I often make shrimp quiche and fritatas too.

    Well, its about technique Emmett. You can't JUST dry a fish out any ole way. And it depends on the season, the type of fish, which of the Gods requires a sacrifice, how much salt you want (alot versus tons), etc. You see it is very complicated and therefore you need a guide.

  5. Even to this seafood ascetic your pizza looks yummy. Any hope of creating some kind of shrimp substitute in that lab of yours?

  6. like shrimp tofu? shrimpfu? tofimpy? I'll have to look into it.

  7. your post reminds me of the annual "Invertebrate Ball" my undergrad advisor held. Everyone had to dress up like their favorite invert and help prepare a meal consisting of as many inverts as we could. I went as a Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis (the subject of my undergraduate thesis). I think my advisor is holding onto the pictures for potential blackmail.

  8. Jim,

    When my son get old enough to trick or treat, probably next year when he'll almost be 3. I want to dress up as an anemone and dress him up as a planula!

    I also study vent shrimp too, but anemones, another of my study vict... i mean subjects, seem alot easier to do.

    I was a chef's apprentice when I was 18, before science was ever a thought in mind. I spent hour making different shapes out of potatoes. I'm sure I can make anemones out of potatoes, if I can do mushrooms! I'll have to give it try and post it.

  9. You have inspired me to start a booze laboratory in my fiancee's apartment. I thank you and she curses you.

  10. Awesome, send a sample my way! Wives/fiancees/girlfriends everywhere curse me in general. I am used to it. I tend to have a bad influence on other men.

  11. The very best shrimp&grits are served at 'Crook's Corner' in Chapel Hill. They claim they invented the dish some decades ago....


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