Sarah grew up in Florida and ate a lot of fish and shrimp growing up, but never had rock shrimp until we lived in Chicago. In fact, rock shrimp weren’t eaten by anyone for years due to their extremely hard shell. The owners of Dixi Crossroads, a restaurant just north of where Sarah grew up, invented a machine that splits the shrimp open and has allowed for commercial sale of rock shrimp. Now you can buy them all over the country, already peeled and cleaned.
Rock shrimp taste more like tiny lobsters than shrimp. They’re incredibly delicious. When we found them at Sunshine Foods in St. Helena a few weeks ago, we brought a pound home to make one of our favorite pastas with rock shrimp and summer corn.
This squid ink pasta with rock shrimp uses squid ink tonnarelli, which you can find here. Clayton had an aversion to squid ink pastas and risottos for a long time, but now he loves the subtle flavor and amazing color of squid ink. The contrast of the white shrimp and bright yellow corn against the deep black pasta is stunning. You can make your own fresh squid ink pasta by saving the ink from fresh squid (see our tips on how to clean squid here, just save the ink in a small jar in the freezer and add it to your pasta dough).
This is a really simple dish that will have dinner on the table in just a few minutes. Fresh corn tastes the best (see our tips for prepping fresh corn here), but frozen corn works as well. Just let it thaw in a bowl for a few minutes before cooking. Have everything ready before you start cooking. Finely dice the shallot (instructions here), and crush a few red Italian chilis. We’ve mentioned it before, but we love our chili crusher from Alessi. We got it in Rome at our favorite cooking shop there, and it always brings back fun memories to use it. Stack about 5 mint leaves on top of each other, roll them lengthwise, then slice the roll into 1/16″ slices with a sharp utility knife. This goes well with a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
Rock Shrimp Pasta with Squid Ink Tonnarelli
- ½ pound rock shrimp
- 1 cup corn
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red chili crushed, plus more to taste
- a splash of white wine
- 300 grams squid ink pasta
- mint, plus more to garnish
- Fill a large pot with water and salt it generously. It should taste like sea water. Bring the water to a boil and add the 300g of pasta. Set a timer for 1 minute less than the package instructions, and stir the pasta occasionally.
- While the pasta boils, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet (enough to coat the bottom of the pan).
- When the oil is hot, add the rock shrimp and a pinch of salt and cook for 1-2 minutes, tossing several times to cook on all sides. Remove the shrimp to a plate when they are just cooked through.
- Add the shallot and corn to the hot pan, and cook, stirring frequently until the shallot is translucent, then add a splash of white wine and the chili pepper.
- When the timer for the pasta goes off, use tongs to move the cooked pasta into the skillet and toss to combine with the corn and shallots.
- Add ¼ cup of pasta water and stir to incorporate. When the pasta water is absorbed, add the rock shrimp and and mint, and continue to cook just until the shrimp is warmed through. Transfer to a large serving bowl (we love this one) or individual plates and garnish with a little more mint and finishing salt. You can also add a little extra red chili pepper flakes if you like spicy food.