In Macedonia, there is a story about a woman who goes to the market every day to buy a loaf of bread. When she gets home, she diligently takes the bread out of the bag and carefully slices of each end, before putting the rest of the bread away. One day, her young daughter asks her why it is important to cut off the ends of the bread. The woman isn’t sure, but resolves to ask her own mother. The next time she sees her, the woman asks her mother why it is so important to cut off the ends of the loaf of bread. Her mother doesn’t know, but she is sure that it is very important. Finally, the mother and daughter go to visit the grandmother. Eagerly, they ask her about the importance of cutting of the ends of each loaf before putting the bread away. The grandmother shrugs her shoulders and says that she doesn’t think it’s important at all, the only reason she always cut the ends off her bread was so that it would fit in her breadbox.
When I decided to share this recipe for shrimp mosca with you, I thought about the Macedonian bread box. Shrimp mosca is one of my mom’s all time favorite dishes and one that is perfect for those times when you need to get dinner on the table fast. But even though she’s been making it for years, I never quite knew the story behind it. I remembered that she got the recipe from a friend who had moved to the Pacific Northwest from Louisiana, but that’s about it. As I was sitting down to share this recipe with you, I had a moment of sudden panic. What if this was actually a well known recipe–like gumbo or something–that everyone knew about already, and that I had gotten totally wrong? (Although, for the record, anything that calls for 5+ cloves of garlic can never be totally wrong.) I feared that my recipe would be the equivalent of squirting ketchup over a cup of macaroni and calling it spaghetti bolognese.
Naturally, I did what any one of you would have done in my position–turned to the google. Rest assured, this recipe is the real deal-garlicky shrimp with rosemary and white wine served with a crusty French baguette.
According to the internet (and we all know that everything on the internet is true) Shrimp Mosca originated at a little Italian restaurant called Mosca’s near New Orleans. They are apparently famous for this little dish, and for good reason. Surprisingly, little was lost as this recipe traveled west from Mosca’s Restaurant in Louisiana all the way to our home in Washington State. However, I did note that while we frequently serve these shrimp over rice the original recipe calls only for bread. Also, Mosca’s restaurant apparently cooks the shrimp with the shell on, but I still prefer to use peeled, deveined shrimp–because, who wants to be stuck peeling shrimp after dinner has been served? I’ve also found that I love how a quick squeeze of lemon juice right before serving really brightens up this dish.
The beauty of this recipe is that it is quick and simple enough to save you when you come home after a long day at work without the slightest idea of what you might cook, but it is also elegant enough to serve to company.
- 20 medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 5 large cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup sweet white wine (riesling or gewurztraminer)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 lemon
- 4 cups white rice
- In a medium sized skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add rosemary and bay leaf and stir until well coated. Add minced garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally.
- Add the shrimp and sprinkle generously with salt. Let the shrimp cook for a couple of minutes (it really depends on the size of your shrimp) before flipping.
- After the shrimp are flipped, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the wine.
- Reduce head to medium low and simmer for about five minutes.
- Serve over rice, with a crusty baguette.