Whenever I hear of someone planning a trip to Venice, I always recommend that they take a side trip over to the island of Burano. This unique island can be easily reached by water taxi or water bus and is famous for its lacework and brightly colored buildings. It is such a uniquely beautiful little island that it is a popular tourist stop but well worth the visit. When we visit Venice we always take the water bus over to Burano to enjoy a spectacular lunch at Gatto Nero, one of the many restaurants found on the island. On a recent trip I ordered a plate of fried shrimp for lunch, which might sound pretty ordinary, but which was anything but. Although I love just about any type of seafood, I have a special affection for well prepared shrimp. The shrimp I had at Gatto Nero were sweet and tender, and encased in a light crispy batter and fried just until golden brown. Quite frankly, this might have been one of my all time favorite shrimp dishes, and I have eaten a LOT of shrimp over the years. If you do plan a visit to Burano and want to dine at Trattoria Gatto Nero, reservations are important because this restaurant gets very busy! (See contact info below)
Being a food fanatic, I had to see if I could replicate this dish at home, so we made a trip to the Venetian fish market the morning we were leaving Venice and bought some fresh, locally caught shrimp to take home with us. I did some research on seafood batter, and ended up choosing one I thought most resembled the batter used at Gatto Nero. After cleaning my shrimp, I made my batter, and then fried the shrimp for just a couple of minutes in very hot oil. The trick to keeping this batter extra light is to use sparkling water, and when frying use oil brought to a temperature of 375 degrees F. I use an oil blend sold here in Italy specifically for deep frying, but canola or peanut oil will work just fine. It is better to fry the shrimps in batches to ensure they cook evenly and quickly and that the batter remains crispy. Simply place the cooked shrimp on a tray lined with paper towels to drain while you continue to cook the remaining shrimp. Allow the oil to come back to the correct temperature before frying the next batch.
Because fried shrimp is a pretty basic dish, I decided to sprinkle my completed plate with a gremolata type of blend that included fresh parsley, sea salt, a chili pepper, and some lemon zest. This really enhance the flavor of the shrimps and you really do not need anything else although some lemon wedges can be included on the plate when serving. You could serve this dish as an appetizer for 6 to 8, or as a main course for 4 to 6.
Fried Shrimp From Gatto Nero in Burano
Trattoria Gatto Nero
Fondamenta della Giudecca, 88, 30142 Venezia
Phone – 041 730120
Deborah Mele 2014
Crispy Fried Shrimp With Spicy Gremolata Topping
- 2 Pounds Fresh Shrimp, Cleaned
- 1 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 – 1 1/3 Cup Sparkling Water
- Oil For Deep Frying (See Notes Above)
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves
- Zest from 1 Medium Lemon
- 1 Small Chili Pepper, Finely Chopped
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- Place the topping ingredients on a cutting board, and using a sharp knife chop everything together until fine.
- Place in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
- Place the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or deep fryer, filling at least 3 inches deep.
- Heat the oil to 365 to 375 degrees F.
- In a shallow bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Slowly pour in the water, whisking until smooth.
- Working in small batches, dip the shrimp into the batter and then drop into the hot oil.
- Fry for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, then remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined tray to drain.
- Continue to fry the remaining shrimps.
- Place the shrimps on a decorative plater, sprinkle with the topping and serve immediately with lemon wedges if desired.