CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Cilantro is one of those herbs that doesn’t enjoy the popularity of others such as basil and dill, but for those who like Mexican and Asian cuisine, it ranks right up there on the likability scale.

I’ve been hooked on cilantro ever since sampling some salsa several years ago that was made with the lacy green-leaves from the pungently flavored plant in an “authentic” Mexican restaurant. It wasn’t too long after that cilantro became a mainstay in my summer garden.

Cilantro, an annual herb, sometimes is known as coriander. The difference is simple. If the leaves are harvested, it is called cilantro. If the seeds are harvested, it is called coriander. Two products, one plant.

Healthwise, cilantro is very low in calories, contains no cholesterol and possesses good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood.

In my garden, I always let some of my cilantro plants go to seed and save some of them for recipes that call for coriander. Because of this, several seeds fall into my garden plot, so each summer, I have an abundance of volunteer plants, and they usually are among the first things harvested.

This year is no different. I’ve already used some leaves in a couple of batches of fresh salsa and just last night, we had a recipe that I discovered on Twitter, courtesy of “Coach Mindy.”

Therese and I enjoyed the Cilantro Lime Shrimp immensely, along with the steamed brussels sprouts and quinoa that accompanied the entree.

Regardless of where the recipe originated — the Caribbean, Latin America or the Far East — cilantro lovers will savor this recipe.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp
1½ pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 medium lime)
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Season the shrimp with cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil to the pan, then add half of the shrimp. Cook them undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook until opaque throughout, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining shrimp to the pan and cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over, add the garlic, and cook until the shrimp is opaque throughout, about 1 minute.
Return the first batch of shrimp to the skillet, mix well so that the garlic is evenly incorporated and remove the pan from the heat.
Squeeze the lime juice over all the shrimp. Add the cilantro, toss well, and serve.

Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 119 calories, 3 grams fat, 144 milligrams cholesterol, 140 milligrams sodium, 2 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, 19 grams protein.

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