There's plenty to talk about with regard to St. Louis's dining scene, but any such discussion would be lacking without mention of The Benevolent King, the latest from local restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba. It's an ode to the food he grew up eating and his chef's mother—who's had a long restaurant career as well and is responsible for the excellent cookie plate you can order to round out your night. After two years away from cooking, Poremba simply missed, it and now that he's back in the kitchen, it's clear he's in his element.
Should you go, get the chef's every-changing meze special, no matter what it is (on one recent visit, it was cured beef bacon, as he doesn't serve pork at the restaurant) and, of course, these crispy shrimp bites. They're pounded down before being given a classic dredge and fry, then paired with chermoula, a Moroccan condiment that often accompanies seafood. You can go right ahead and fry them immediately post-breading, though Poremba recommends taking the time to freeze them first for best results.
To learn more, read “Arch Madness."
Shrimp Mogador with Chermoula
Recipe adapted from Ben Poremba, The Benevolent King, St. Louis, MO
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus optional freezing time
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes, plus optional freezing time
For the Chermoula:
⅓ cup chopped cilantro
⅓ cup chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves, Microplaned
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
½ teaspoon fenugreek
1 cup lemon juice
⅓ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Shrimp:
4 cups oil (canola, grapeseed or peanut,for frying
1 pound large shrimp — heads removed bodies shelled and deveined
1 cup Wondra flour
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
5 egg whites
2 tablespoons club soda
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet to 325F.
2. Make the chermoula: Using a mortar and pestle, or a food processor, pound or pulse all the chermoula ingredients, except the lemon juice and olive oil. Slowly add the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Butterfly the shrimp: Using a small paring knife, make an incision halfway through at the back of the shrimp lengthwise. Carefully open along the cut seam without removing the tail. Lightly pound the shrimp to flatten it.
4. In a medium bowl mix the Wondra, spices, salt and pepper together.
5. In another medium bowl, lightly beat the egg whites and thin them out with the club soda. Set aside.
6. Dredge each shrimp in the flour-spice mixture, then dip in the egg white mixture. Repeat, then cover in panko.
7. Either freeze the shrimp, single file, for up to a week, or fry them immediately. Fry in the hot oil: 3 minutes if unfrozen and about 5 minutes for frozen, until the shrimp is golden brown. Serve with the chermoula on the side.