So here’s the thing: shrimp is a good protein, low in calories. But shrimp is bland. On the other hand, olive oil is delicious. And when you infuse olive oil, you had an extra layer of deliciousness. Sauté your shrimp in an infused olive oil, and it comes out pretty good. And judging by the gifts that I received this Christmas, infused olive oils are apparently the thing. I now have at least half a dozen bottles of olive oils infused in peppers, garlic, lemon, and most of all, basil. Yes, basil infused olive oil is the trendiest thing going, all the way from Trader Joe’s to Sur La Table.
Now, I have a small bottle of olive oil infused with truffles. My wife claims to not like this. She says that the truffles smell funny. Pish posh. I sneak a few drops of truffle oil in quite a lot of things, and she wonders how I can tease out such rich delicious flavors from something as bland as a shrimp. The reason truffle oil has such a bad rep is because the people who use truffle oil frequently use far too much of it. Just a little goes a long way, and pulls all the umami and savory deliciousness out of a wide range of proteins and starches. My local brewpub dresses up its house-made potato chips with truffle oil an Parmesean shavings. I am quite addicted.
Tonight, I sautéed shrimp in basil infused olive oil, with some sea salt, garlic, and black pepper. I finished the shrimp with a dash of sweet white wine. Then I dressed oricchette pasta with garlic infused olive oil that had a few drops of the truffle oil mixed in. I’m pretty skeptical of mixing seafood and cheese, so this was as far as we went with the dish. I suppose you could try grating some Parmesan on it. Plenty of flavor as it was, albeit at the expense of losing the low calorie count. When I do this next, it needs both a vegetable and a bit of an acid to give it some brightness. So, I think that towards the end of the sauté, I will add in some julienned red bell pepper.
Besides, I have liters of infused olive oil to go through. I suppose there are worse problems. The problem oil is the one infused with lemon. It is simply too sweet to put on anything. You could almost eat it by the teaspoonful, it’s so sweet, although I suspect that your gall bladder would immediately shrivel up to the size of a number eight ball bearing, and after it recovered, attempt a coup d’état. So don’t try that at home.
But if any of you have suggestions for what I might do with all of this oil in my pantry, I’m all ears.
Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.