Oh, horrors. Seafood with cheese? Isn’t that one of the basic caveats that any chef-in-training is instructed about at some point in their culinary training? Still…tuna melt sandwiches are popular and umm…the ‘melt’ part is usually a cheese of some kind, right?
As Stephanie Stiavetti, the author of Melt tells it, the rationale is that seafood is delicate tasting whereas cheese, well…it rules with its intensity of flavors. While this may actually be an Italian culinary injunction, other cultures just say pish-tosh to that and do as they like.
The key, though, remains–if the fish is to share the spotlight, let it not be crowded out by a cheese so assertive that it’s drowned out. Like asking Robin Williams to open for your own comedy act: you might as well head on home (would that Mr Williams were still around to upstage other comedians anyway, much less a silly fish dish).
This dish, most naturally, would go well with some rice or potatoes, potentially, but I had a nice loaf of artisan Semifreddi’s rustic sour which would have to serve. The dish doesn’t take long; though removing tomato skins in a bowl of hot water isn’t the best method. I opted for this little trick which made a lot more sense in that I was only using two tomatoes.
The rest is simply a matter of cooking down some garlic and shallots, cooking those skinless and seedless tomatoes, then adding your seasoned shrimp and all to a baking dish at 400F for about 10-12 minutes. The original recipe is here if you’re interested.
I have to let you know; this dish is really, really good. The key to its success rests on its simple ingredients and their quality and seasonality. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, shrimp a bit more expensive than I’d usually put out for per pound, and good quality Bulgarian feta. So easy, so simple, David Tanis makes me look like a frickin’ genius cook.