recipes by VINNY DOTOLO and JOHN SHOOK
Asking Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, chef-owners of West Hollywood’s Animal and the new Son of a Gun, “What pantry item are you most passionate about?” you’d expect to have to head to Surfas or send away to Le Sanctuaire for some esoteric delicacy. How refreshing, then, to hear them proclaim grainy mustard as their It pick—it’s the ultimate in accessibility.
When you consider the striking flavors Dotolo and Shook create, the choice actually makes a lot of sense. The food served at Animal is a raucous celebration of meat, and the pungent kick of grainy mustard can be an ideal counterpart to chicken livers or that glorious slice of pork belly. As they prove at the more seafood-centric Son of a Gun, the condiment also interacts nicely with creations born of the sea. Here, in a recipe inspired by that eatery’s menu, the two mellow grainy mustard’s sharp attitude by putting it in an aioli alongside crispy-outside, luscious-inside rock-shrimp cakes. Not so ordinary after all.
SHRIMP CAKES WITH GRAINY MUSTARD AIOLI
¾ teaspoon garlic
2 egg yolks
¼ cup lemon juice, strained
2 cups cottonseed oil
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup grainy mustard
Mash garlic into a paste. Place yolks in food processor with garlic paste, salt and a splash of lemon juice. With machine running, slowly pour in oil and lemon juice until aioli is smooth. Blend in grainy mustard with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 whole shallots, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound rock shrimp, shelled, rinsed, roughly chopped, excess water removed
1 red onion, finely diced, excess water removed
½ cup celery, diced small
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 jumbo egg
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
½ cup chopped parsley
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons cottonseed or peanut oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer crushed garlic and shallots in cream. Reduce to ½ cup and set aside. Blot excess moisture from chopped shrimp, onions and celery. In large mixing bowl, combine with minced garlic, egg, herbs, salt, pepper and cooled cream reduction. Add panko until mixture holds together just enough for the shrimp cakes to keep their shape when fried. (Adjust seasoning if necessary.) Mold into 12 small patties. Heat oil on medium high in large heavy skillet. Working in batches, fry cakes until golden on both sides and cooked through.
Place a few spoonfuls of grainy-mustard aioli on 6 plates. Put 2 shrimp cakes on each and serve immediately.