We recently picked up some fresh vanilla beans at a French market and came up with this somewhat unusual way to use them. I love the taste of vanilla in desserts but it’s also great with shrimp. The delicacy of the vanilla seems to bring out the sweet goodness of the shellfish. A bit of spice keeps the flavor firmly in the savory range.
We tried this on top of half an avocado for an appetizer. Yum. You could serve it with some good crusty bread to wipe up the delicious butter and juices from the shrimp and some lemons to squeeze over the top. Or you could serve it on buttered pasta, rice, or couscous.
I like to save the pod and add it to a canister of sugar to impart a nice vanilla flavor — perfect with coffee or for baking.
For transport, the vanilla bean vendor gave me a plastic bag but suggested storing the vanilla beans in parchment paper in the refrigerator, not in the plastic bag. I’ve also read that vacuum sealing them individually and storing them in a cool, dark cabinet is a good way to preserve moistness and freshness.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course
- Preheat the water bath to 136°F (58°C).
- Split vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. (Retain the pod, if you’d like, and add it to a canister of sugar to impart a delicate vanilla flavor.)
- In a medium bowl, combine the vanilla seeds, shrimp, pimente d’Espelette, salt, and pepper. Divide the shrimp mixture between two small food bags, add 1 ounce of butter to each bag, and vacuum seal. (We split it between 2 bags because we planned to eat it as 2 servings; you could also add everything to a large food bag and divide the servings after cooking.)
- Cook for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the shrimp along with the bag juices to a platter and serve with crusty bread, spoon atop an avocado half, or toss with some hot buttered pasta. Garnish with minced chives and serve.