Shrimp season is on its way out - celebrate the last hauls of the year with this unique preparation. Not as acidic as most vinegar pickles, think of the brine as a marinade, infusing both ingredients with delicacy and aroma. Picked Dungenness crab would make a decadent substitute, though may fare better when tossed with the celery post-pickling (just before serving) to avoid a vinegar takeover of its buttery qualities.
Serve for the salad course or make it the main dish with a side of roasted sweet potatoes or delicata squash slices.
Serves 6 as a side dish
For the pickling brine
1/2 Cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 Cup mirin
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Thick slices fresh ginger
5 Black peppercorns
5 Juniper berries
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Bunches celery, outer stalks removed until just the tender heart stalks and their blanched leaves remain
1 Cup white wine
8 Black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves
1 1/2 - 2 pounds shrimp
Really good extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2. Keep the celery hearts whole and put them into a large pot with the wine, bay leaves, and a generous pinch of salt. Add just enough water to cover the celery. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the celery is crisp-tender when pierced with a knife, 25-30 minutes. Transfer the celery to a cutting board. Cut the hearts crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces and add them to the pickling brine.
3. Using the same pot and liquid in which you cooked the celery, poach the shrimp until just cooked (if still in their shell, leave it on until after they are cooked to avoid them curling to tightly or flaring into a "butterfly"). Drain the shrimp in a colander, peel (if necessary), and put in a bowl. Pour the celery and pickling brine over the shrimp; make sure everything is submerged. If there isn't enough brine to cover everything completely, just give the celery and shrimp a turn now and then. Cover, refrigerate, and allow the shrimp and celery to "pickle" for about an hour.
4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp and celery to plates. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with celery leaves and chopped chives. Serve cold.
Based on a recipe from Canal House Cooks Every Day, by Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton.