In Mexico, shrimp fishing can be traced back to pre-Columbian times, but it only started there commercially in 1920. The shrimp from Guaymas, on the Bay of California (The Sea of Cortez) became famous all over Mexico for its sweet flavor. (Mexico started banning shrimp fishing in 2014 to try to protect the already fished-out seas.) This was my go-to food in Acapulco, where I spent some time in my twenties. In those days Acapulco was a popular vacation town with both celebrities and young honeymooners. I lived there for a year with my boyfriend, Juan, who worked as the food and beverage director at a fancy hotel. Restaurant owners all over town would offer Juan and me free meals and drinks. As the American, I was the guinea pig. If I liked the food and didn’t get food poisoning, the owners hoped Juan would recommend their restaurant to the hotel guests. We had some fantastic meals, of course—but I did get sick a lot! One little hole-in-the-wall joint on the main drag never offered Juan complimentary meals, but we ate there often, enticed by the smell of fresh tortillas, marinated beef, shrimp, and whole scallions tossed on the grill. The food was fresh, simple and delicious. At this time of year as the days grow longer, and vacation season approaches, I think about that place.
Lemon Butter Shrimp
Pre-heat oven to 400°
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb of peeled shrimp—wild if you can get them (16-20 count)
5 cloves of garlic, 3 minced and 2 sliced
Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Add juice from one of the lemons, the salt, and the minced garlic. Cook over low heat for about two minutes and set aside.
Place the shrimp in the sheet pan in a single layer. Cut the remaining lemon into slices and tuck the slices in and around the shrimp. Pour the butter lemon sauce over the top of the shrimp and cook in the oven 10 minutes, 12 at the most.
This easy shrimp recipe reminds me of that hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It takes less than 20 minutes to cook and it's also versatile. You can serve the shrimp over pasta, on top of a green salad, as an appetizer, or just pour the whole pan onto a platter and serve with a great loaf of bread to sop up the leftover drippings. Or you can stuff the shrimp into warm tortillas. On your vacation, I hope you can find a local and delicious place to eat, but just in case, consider planning a few simple and deliciously memorable meals like this one.