My dad and I share a lot of “likes”: smoked salmon with dill and capers, classic rock, unplugged alternative rock, a good beer, a great wine, The Lawrence Welk show, dancing, going to bed early, stars, and road biking, to name a few. Biking stands out as a long-time memory, as I grew up watching my dad strap on those funny shoes and click away on some race he was doing that weekend, 50, 65, 100 miles no problem. I, too, eventually had the biking itch, and while I never rode competitively, I think I can hold my own on a bike.
On some long rides, as we clicked in and started down the pine and eucalyptus-lined greenbelt to reach the road leading to the hilly, California beach canyons, Dad would sternly remind me, “Eat before you’re hungry, and drink before you’re thirsty. Or else you’ll bonk.” Eating on a bike isn’t exactly gourmet, but calorie quality is a necessity. Bananas, granola bars, and peanut butter M&Ms are all perfectly unbonkable foods.
When Rob became a serious fixture in my life, Dad was quick to ask if he rode. He did, and was quite good in fact. Even when Rob was “out of shape” he could fly passed me up a hill in a lower gear no problem. I think even my dad was impressed.
So last weekend when we decided to take a leisurely 10-mile ride to try out the new fixie Dad has worked for me, it was odd to see Rob almost a quarter mile behind us, peddling like the dickens. He had just gotten a new chain, and was giving it a test-ride as well. But there was no reason for such a lag, especially on these flat, Jacksonville country roads.
When we arrived to our destination (Chili’s for lunch), Rob realized his brake had been rubbing on his tire the whole time. A convenient excuse! But a legitimate reason nonetheless.
Lunch, sans bananas and peanut M&Ms, was nice and filled us a little too much to feel extremely comfortable on a road bike. As we pushed through the gut-bomb feeling and picked up the pace (this time, Rob right in line), it seemed all was smooth sailing. That is until I heard Rob’s voice from a ways back.
“We’ve got a problem!” he yelled. I echoed the same to my dad a couple feet in front, and we slowed, turned, stopped, clicked out, and looked back. There, with another legitimate reason to fall behind, was Rob, holding his brand new chain, hanging limp, completely snapped. There was no way to fix it (the guys tried as I watched), and they finally came to this conclusion:
Well, they don’t call Rob a Coastie for nothing!
After the eventful ride, a good dinner was definitely in order. Rob has started to take a liking to shrimp (Yay! Woohoo! Hallelujah!), and of course, anything fried in these parts warrants a decent meal. But to keep things on the lighter side, I got a little creative with my Boom Boom Shrimp.
Using a local U-15/20 shrimp (these are good medium-sized buggers, weighing in at under 15-20 shrimp per pound), I peeled and deveined them myself. There’s something about sitting on our back porch in the early spring sunlight, peeling shrimp, sipping tea, with Sig at my feet watching the golfers go by; definitely antebellum-esque. After the shrimp – and my hands – were cleaned, I lightly drizzled over some beautifully green grapeseed oil, and more liberally sprinkled Old Bay. Yep, we went old school, folks.
After a relaxing seasoned and oiled spa treatment in the fridge, the shrimp were ready for the jacuzzi – a quick and very light douse of s&p seasoned flour, and into a shallow, coconut oiled cast iron pan they went. Coconut oil is 1) healthy, 2) tasty, and 3) holds a shallow pan-fry well because of its high smoking point (however, I would not use it for deep frying. That’s when rice bran oil or peanut oil get their 15 minutes of fame).
Taking only a minute or two per side, the shrimp get pink, plump, curled, and crispy. It’s amazing that only a tiny bit of flour and a good quality oil can produce a “fried” shrimp that could probably stand up to other beer-battered Boom Booms of these parts. We had a trio of sauces; my favorite was my Strawberry BBQ sauce, while Dad and Rob loved the Asian-inspired sweet ginger sauce. With a not-so-Southern cole slaw on the side, the meal was perfect, and filling – especially after such a hard ride!
Boom Boom Shrimp
- 2 lbs. medium shrimp (go for a local, wild source, not farmed), peeled and deveined (keep the little tails on for easy grabbing and eating)
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- ¼ c coconut oil
- 1 c flour
Put the cleaned and deveined shrimp in a large bowl with the grapeseed oil and Old Bay. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
To prepare the frying process, heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I use my cast iron skillet) until the temp reaches 320, and season the flour with s&p. Lightly dredge the shrimp in the flour, shaking off the excess before placing in the oil. After about a minute, flip the shrimp, and then let cook for another minute until curled, pink, and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and quickly season with a sprinkle of salt.
Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce, and an unoaked chardonnay.