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Simple Sautéed Shrimp

I think because of all the rich food, big meals and constant entertaining that happens during the holidays that I often find myself striving for simplicity once January rolls around.  Don’t get me wrong – I love all the wonderful holiday food but now it’s just time for a bit of a change. 
Today, the wind and rain picked up again this afternoon.  I looked out my office window and the sky was such an odd shade.  It looked bruised.  It was deep purple gray with a yellow tinge.  Menacing.  Not only did my thoughts turn to simple food but they also turned to warmer and sunnier climes.  Luckily for me I must have known this longing would come as over the weekend I picked up a pound of Baja shrimp. 
Now I know those of you down on the Gulf will be making that little "pffft" noise in disgust right now, believing that your shrimp is the best there is.  I won’t argue with you but I love the sweet, succulent shrimp that comes from the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.  I’m sure that part of it is that it also brings back many memories of lazy time spent wandering around little towns; swimming in the warm, turquoise waters of Sea of Cortes; watching the powerful waves of the Pacific beat against the shore; and, of course, sipping a favorite ice cold beverage, feet in the sand, without a care in the world – except to decide if you will rouse yourself for dinner and head to one of the shrimp bars or outdoor grills for dinner.   In other words those shrimp are not just a meal but an entire vacation. 
There are all kinds of things you can do with them but probably my very favorite is just to let the shrimp take center stage. 
Simple Sautéed Shrimp
Add olive oil to a cold sauté pan.  Add two or three (or more!) smashed cloves of garlic and one dried hot pepper like a Thai Dragon.  Heat the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle.  Add shrimp (heads removed, shells left on) just until they form a single layer in the pan.  Depending on how much shrimp you have you may need to do two or more batches. 
Watch the garlic carefully and when it starts to get brown remove it from the pan (by this time it will have flavored the oil).  Continue sautéing the shrimp for about 2 or 3 minutes per side, just until they turn a nice salmon pink. 
Remove them from the pan and serve with lime slices or wedges. 
To eat, peel the shrimp and squeeze the lime over them.  Smile and be happy. 
You can serve them with a nice salad, maybe some bread and a Mexican beer or glass of Sauvignon Blanc would definitely be in order!  Then again, maybe all you need is the shrimp. 

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