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Feb 26, 2008 02:30 PM

The Absolute Best Low Calorie Shrimp Dish You Will EVER Taste!!!

I have a reputation. Almost six years ago I penned this which lives in Chowhound's Hall of Infamy. I've also been responsible for a number of other dishes which, fortunately, enough people made that they discovered that several of them REALLY were as good as I advertised!

This is one.

I am obsessed with calories. Having spent much of my life fighting weight, they mean a lot to me. Simply, if I am going to eat something fattening it better be good. REAL good. It must be worth it. Over the years there are very few dishes that I have ever found that were legitimately good and didn't scream fat at the first bite. In fact other that sushi, carpaccio and a good raw bar it has been an exercise in frustration to find something genuinely delicious that didn't invite sleepness nights of guilt for wasting my calories.

This is worth the calories. In fact it would actually be worth two, three, four times the calories. If this was a truly, frighteningly FATTENING dish it would still be worth it! It is so good that it would be worth sleepless nights and worry of how to make up for the excess this inspired.

It's not fattening.

My God, it's so non-fattening that it could actually be called diet food. Not Weight Watcher's good, not Lean Cuisine good, but a signature dish from Mario Batali which, essentially, it is based on.

Simply, this is one of the best shrimp dishes I have ever tasted in my life. The entire recipe makes a total of approximately 1,800 calories. Divide this by four (that's a HALF POUND of shrimp each!) and you have a 450 calorie dish. Add some asparagus drizzled with olive oil and a touch of Reggiano and you're talking the best 600 calorie dish you'll ever have.

Inspired by Mario Batali with a few changes and a lot of hyperbole:

Jumbo Shrimp Marsala Housewife Style

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 med red onion, 1/4 " dice
1 1/2 ribs celery with leaves, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 28 ounce can diced San Marzano plum tomatoes, partially drained (will equal about
2 cups of drained diced tomatoes with a little bit of juice
)1 1/2 tblsp. pine nuts
1 1/2 tbslp. currants
3 tblsp. capers, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cup good dry marsala
1 tsp. fennel seed
red pepper flakes to taste
2 bay leaves
2 pounds jumbo FRESH shrimp (if you can find them)-any size up to under 25 is OK

Mario's cooking method is superb:

1. In a 12 inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, pine nuts, currants, capers, marsala, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and lay the shrimp in one layer in the tomato mixture. Cover, set over low heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and allow to stand for 5 minutes, covered.

I serve this with fresh asparagus, steamed with a sprinkling of good olive oil and a light dust of Reggiano.

Because I am hopeless I drink red with this (I drink red with almost everything) and Amy Winehouse softly intoning "Rehab" in the background.

Again, one quarter of this is 450 calories. You will not need rehab. The asparagus really does compliment it well. This, with the Reggiano and drizzled olive oil is probably adding 100 to 150 calories.

I have never tasted anything in my life as good as this with so few calories.

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  1. I assume the shrimp are shelled.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sharuf

      Your risotto thread did inspire me to make risotto for the very first time.(I had just run across the thread not so long ago) So I thank you! (it was just cheese combo I did-but I was very happy I attempted) I just think anyone with such a love of food has to be a good person!!

      1. re: Sharuf

        You will need to shell and devein them.

      2. This sounds great. I think I have everything except currants and marsala. As soon as I remember to get some I'll try this. Always happy to learn of a delcious and low-cal dish.

        They're tyring to make me do a diet, I say no, no, no.

        But I'll make this. Thanks.

        Off to check out your 6 yr old post.

        1. Joe, thanks so much for posting this. Can you explain what you like about this dish (unique flavors, texture, etc)? I've had tomato based shrimp dishes before and not really enjoyed them, but I'm definitely willing to try it out.

          7 Replies
          1. re: thejulia

            Mario notes that this is Sicilian. Over the years I have done my best to eat my way around Italy but I have never been to Sicily. The flavors in this are extremely interesting-it will not taste like what you may expect it to taste like. There is a touch of sweetness from the dry Marsala and the currants. Capers, pine nuts, red onion and celery add texture while fennel and red pepper flakes add an interesting layer of flavor with the chopped tomatoes and the olive oil combining for a kind of binder. The dominant flavor is NOT tomatoey. You really will taste the shrimp! If you are able to find fresh shrimp (for me the ideal is 16-20 count; Batali calls for U 12) it will add a lot to this although it is still outstanding with formerly frozen.

            I was in Nice, Aix and Cannes recently and the flavors in this reminded me of several dishes I had there. Sometimes I forget that Sicily is an island in the Mediterranean, only a hundred air miles or so from Tunisia. This has elements of all these. It is unique and genuinely delicious. Simply, a complex dish with literal layers of flavor. The caloric part puts it in a special category of excellence. Regardless of the number of calories in this I have added it to the dishes that I serve when my wife and I host dinner parties. It is THAT good and, that interesting. You'll get a "reaction" from it.

            1. re: Joe H

              Why obsess about calories? Being fit is more important for health than being not fat.

              1. re: Joebob

                Twenty five years ago I weighed 332 pounds (I am 6'1"). Today and most days for the past 25+ years I weigh around 200, perhaps a little bit less. Having threatened my health and my life because of my obsessive passion for food without restraint, I have found a way to control my weight. I obsess about calories: simply, they must be worth it. If they are: foie gras, 86 per cent butter fat butter, 14 ounces of gorgonzola dolce in a risotto for four, then so be it. If the food is THAT good. Today, I'll have an 18 course dinner that's literally 7000 calories; but it will take me two weeks and 70+ miles to walk it off while not wasting a calorie. This works for me. I religiously walk five miles a day: in rain, in snow, in 100 degree weather. But I do it. Everywhere, on business, at midnight, at the break of day. Around Stanley park, on the shore of Lake Geneva, around the harbor in Monaco, on mountain paths in Baiersbronn. But I do it. Having tried almost everything else, this works. And, I have grown to love it. Even to look forward to walking. Even to look forward to "needing" to walk...

                If I am obsessed then so be it. But I like myself. I also love food as much as anyone who has ever posted on here. (My mother was a waittress and my father was a chef. On weekends, fifty years ago, we would drive a hundred or more miles just to eat something they had heard might be good!) It just has to be "worth it." If it's not there are going to be miles and miles to walk to "pay for it." Back on topic, these calories are "worth it."

                1. re: Joe H

                  Although this particular recipe does not "speak" to me, I really appreciate your laying out your "calorie worth it" criteria. I and some of my friends are in a similar position and find ourselves eating better than ever because we only eat what we enjoy and we are conscious of its place in our food plan.

                  1. re: Joe H

                    I love you explination. I am going to try this recipe for sure. And the risotto. I am about to post on that thread for pairing suggestions. Keep up the great work!

                    1. re: Rizza

                      Rizza, I'll make this as a first course; half of this might actually make eight servings, it is so rich. Second course is a salad (mesclun, tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese with a sundried tomato balsamic viniagrette, main bouillibasse with garlic bread (whole loaf of crusty Italian bread sliced 1 1/4" thick slathered with garlic butter ((one and one half sticks of softened butter mixed with 7 or 8 large cloves of minced FRESH garlic, caraway seed, hot pepper flakes, oregano flakes, grated Reggiano to cover) and ice cream.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. Here I am two years later than the recipe discussion, but I just had to tell you that I made this recipe for supper tonight. All I'll say is that this is one of the best shrimp dishes I've ever had. My husband eye balled me skeptically as I added the fennel, and currents to the pan. Later, I had to stop him from going for thirds. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I'm heading to your rissotto site next.

                3 Replies
                1. re: marymari L

                  Thank you, marymari L. Much appreciated!!!

                  1. re: Joe H

                    Shrimping season has just opened in low country so I definitely will try this recipe~sounds intriguing. Did you toast pine nuts? Fresh bay leaves?

                    I read where one of your favorite cookbooks is by Roberto Donna? Would you mind to give which dishes you have tested? Also, do you have any other "killer " recipes you have posted on chowhound? I would really like to purchase the cookbook if you can share the names of dishes you prepare.

                    I appreciate your passion for food and I have enjoyed reading about your travels in Europe and dining experiences. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us!!!!

                    1. re: plufmud

                      Roberto's book is called "Cooking in Piedmont."

                      This is the single best dish that I make. Immodestly it is also the best ice cream that I have ever tasted.

                      I have a 40+ year old White Mountain freezer that I hand crank and use rock salt and ice to freeze the cream, then wrap it in burlap for an hour or two then the freezer for a couple of hours more. This is my best flavor and my own recipe. I have never made it in anything other than the White Mountain so I don't know how another machine will influence the texture. I also make hazelnut where I toast and grind the nuts first and cinnamon raisin with the cinnmon made with heavy whipping cream and a cinnamon stick and the raisons macerated in Calvados.

                      1. Pecans-saute 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans in
                      2 tbsp. butter until lightly browned. Set aside.
                      2. Caramel-1 1/4 cups heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized, regular pasteurized), 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 whole stick organic/country butter
                      In a heavy bottomed saucepan scald the cream ad keep warm. In another heavy bottom saucepan combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water over medium heat and stir until it dissolves and the liquid is "clear." Turn the heat to high and boil the misture, without stirring, until it is a light to medium amber color. (NOte: this is tricky and the key to correctly made caramel-not to cook this too long.) This took me about 7 or 8 minutes. Remove fro the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth then whisk in the butter (chunks at a time) and let cool.
                      3. Ice cream base: 2 cups heavy cream (pasteurized), 1 cup whole milk (NOT 2 or 1%, cream top if available), 6 organic egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar
                      In a heavy bottomed saucepan, scald the cream and the milk. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, whisk egg yolks and sugar. Add the scalded cream mixture, turn up the heat until the water is boiling and whisk the mixture continuously until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the caramel. Then fold in the chooped pecans.
                      4. Let cool, then transfer to storage container and refrigerator for 8 hours +.
                      5. For a White Mountain freezer pour the cream into the stainless steel cream can. Place this inside the wooden tub. Crush ice into fine particles and place a layer about three inches deep around the can in the tub. Sprinkly 1/2 layer of rock salt on top of this. Repeat with ice and rock salt layers until the freezer is well packed. Turn crank at constant speed until cream is frozen. After 10 minutes or so the cream will noticeably become firmer. Continue for a total of about 20 to 25 minutes until the consistency is one of soft ice cream. Remove the dasher and scrape the excess back into the container.
                      6. To pack the ice cream in the container for hardening: place a sheet of wax paper over the top of the container, press the can cover down over this and plug the hole in the top with either a cork stopper or tape. Drain off water in wooden tub and repack with 5 parts of crushed ice and 1 part of rock salt until the entire can and lid are covered with both. Wrap and cover with a burlap bag and let stand until frozen or hard. Probably several hours. An additional hour in a freezer may also follow this depending on the desired hardness.

                      I also make a serious bouillibasse with a fish fumet using heads and frames.