Shrimp in a Pouch with Lemon Mayonnaise

Curried Cod in Parchment was one of our earliest blog posts.  We thought it might be time to revisit the technique, giving it a Greek spin.  Say hello to Shrimp in a Pouch with Lemon Mayonnaise.

This isn’t a fancy-pants recipe – it’s a quickie remedy for the usual put-something-in-a-pan-then-put-something-else-in-a-pan-now-put-something-else-in-a-pan rut.  You can finish everything before the first half-hour of All Things Considered ends, and that includes whipping up a batch of homemade mayonnaise (the house record for non-professionals is about 2 minutes).  A healthy clutch of potato slices in each bag obviates the need for rice.  With luck the radio will be playing a story about Congressional budget negotiations while you devein the shrimp.  You can sublimate your feelings, whichever side of the fence you’re on, into the pointed end of a sharp knife.  While the shrimp bake, throw together a salad, set the table and, if you haven’t already, pour yourself a glass of assyrtiko.  

Drink the wine while NPR talks about graduation speakers or the scandalous acceleration in tuition costs.  If the latter, turn off the radio, refill your glass, pretend you’re on a beach in Santorini, and then serve dinner.  Enjoy.  Ken

Shrimp in a Pouch with Lemon Mayonnaise-2

Shrimp in a Pouch with

Lemon Mayonnaise

Makes 4 entrée servings


  • 20 large shrimp
  • 1 pound small waxy potatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions or spring onions, washed and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 cloves garlic–2 finely chopped, 1 grated on a microplane
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 scrubbed lemon (about 2 tablespoons of juice)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 hot pepper–jalapeno or serrano, thinly sliced and most seeds discarded
  • 16 pitted Kalamata olives, pitted and cut into quarters
  • 2 ounces feta
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley

Directions for shrimp:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  2. Peel and devein the shrimp.
  3. Scrub the potatoes and slice 1/8-inch thick.  A mandoline makes easy work of this.  Put into a bowl, season with salt and pepper.  Then add the scallions, 1 of the chopped cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Toss well.
  4. Arrange 4 sheets of parchment on the counter.  We used parchment from a roll 15 inches wide, tearing off sheets about 18 inches long.  In the center of each sheet arrange a 6-inch circle of evenly stacked potatoes.  If potatoes are unevenly stacked, they won’t cook at the same rate.
  5. Put the shrimp in the bowl, add the other clove of chopped garlic, a tablespoon of olive oil, 2/3 of the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the oregano and the hot pepper.  Season lightly with salt and then give everything a good stir.  Both the feta and olives (added in a minute) have a high salt content.
  6. Arrange 5 shrimp in a single layer on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with olives and feta (not the parsley).  Carefully pull corners together above the bundle, then pinch and twist to form a pouch.  Secure the throat of each pouch with a piece of butcher’s twine.  Slide the bundles on to a sheet pan and bake 15 minutes.  While the bundles are baking, make the mayonnaise.  Allow to rest 5 minutes.  Open a bundle and check to make sure everything’s done.  Open the other bundles and sprinkle all of them with parsley.
  7. Drizzle each serving with  with the lemon mayonnaise and serve, with extra mayo on the side.

Directions for mayonnaise:

  1.  Separate the egg.  Refrigerate the white for tomorrow’s omelet.
  2. Put the yolk, the remaining lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of  lemon juice and 1 teaspoon water into a small bowl and whisk until frothy.  Starting one drop at a time, whisk in the canola oil.  Make sure the previous drop is completely incorporated before adding the next.   If this is your first time, go slow.  You can speed up a bit once things have thickened.
  3. After finishing the canola oil, whisk in the remaining olive oil in a thin stream.  By this time the emulsion should have thickened up to the texture of heavy cream.  Add the grated garlic clove.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding lemon juice, pepper and salt if necessary.

Shrimp in a Pouch with Lemon Mayonnaise-5

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Shrimp in a Pouch 4-1

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Jody Notes:  [written by Ken because of Harvard graduation]

Quick!  Without looking back, which ingredient is used differently in the recipe instructions than in the photos?  If you answered “Parsley!” you should see a therapist – you’re clearly hypervigilant.  But yes, in the photos the parsley went on the shrimp BEFORE  pouching; in the directions, it’s added after.  We decided it looks and tastes better when added later in the show.  

You’ll notice that the photo collage includes a shot of a towel rolled into a ring.  All serious contenders in the speed mayo competition know that the towel is essential tool for anchoring the bowl while you whisk and pour simultaneously  (actually, it’s whisk and drip until things start to thicken up).  Otherwise, you fall into the herky jerky pattern of having to pause every time you need to add the next drop of oil.  Mayo interruptus.  At best, you end up splattering egg and oil all over the place; at worst you do all of the previous, and the mayo separates.  Make a towel ring–or use a VERY heavy bowl.  

If this is your first stab at homemade mayo, you’re in luck.  No one ever warned me not to skip the business about letting the egg come to room temperature, or to add a bit of water at the beginning.  Both insure that your first time will make everyone happy.  If you’re  nervous, make the mayo before you do everything else, then throw it into the fridge until you need it.  Mayonnaise is magic – trust me, it will work.  Really.  You’re welcome.  

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Click on the collage to see the recipe steps with a little more detail.  Left and right arrow keys will move you through the photos.

61 thoughts

  1. Thank you for posting this! We’re having guests this weekend and I’m mulling through restaurants in the area to go to but in the back of my mind, I’d much rather cook my own. And then, viola, I log onto my blog space and here’s the perfect recipe. I’m also looking forward to try out the mayo. Cheers!

  2. What a great looking dish (er, pouch)—and definitely the closest I’ll get to a beach in Santorini this year! I saw that Asimov piece earlier and did resolve to buy some Greek whites this summer because it reminded me I’ve enjoyed some in Greek restaurants before.

    • I’ve been a fan of assyrtiko for some time, but as the man says, “You pays your money and you takes your chances.” And that’s been the problem with Greek wine–either they’re using French varietals and trying to reproduce something from France or California, or they’re using Greek varietals, without a lot of attention to quality control. Obviously not all, but without a guide it can be a roll of the dice. I’m going to try to dig up some of the wines that Asimov mentions and give them a shot. The glass of assyrtiko with this dish was only half a joke. Ken

  3. Every single aspect of this dish warms my soul. And I only once made mayonnaise, according to Elizabeth David’s recipe circa 1952, and used it to grout the tiles in the bathroom: it was that disgusting. Now I’m excited and hungry. I am also a novice at paper bag cooking, but feel ready to give this a try. Brilliant post, thank you.

  4. You were in fine form with this post, Ken. In addition to contemplating how good this will taste when the Seattle temperature creeps back up from the 50s to the high 70s, I will also contemplate mayonnaise and mastery. Tuitions may rise, budget decisions may be inexplicable or galling, but the act of making your own mayonnaise affirms one’s control of one’s own (short-term) destiny. If we stop making our own mayonnaise, then the politicians win.

    • Alison–I may have to steal that line: If we stop making our own mayonnaise the politicians win. It’s just brilliant. And depressingly true. Thank you. By the way, it was in the fifties here last week – and the past three days have all been north of 90, with lots of complimentary humidity. I envy you. Ken

  5. Like deelectablesca, I bought line caught Carolina shrimp yesterday with no recipe in mind. And there you are. Again. I miss Jody though. Just sayin’…

    • Fine. I get it. Just fine. :-) Jody will be back next week. I didn’t know you could catch fish with a line. Are they very big, or do you fish all afternoon for an entrée portion? Ken

      • Shoot. Nothing like yelling “I am an Idiot” in the towne square. Every time I blew past the hand written signs at Westport Lobster I thought it read line caught wild shrimp. It reads wild caught Carolina shrimp. I hope I do a better job with your directions for company tonight! Running to the mayo part…

    • Chip and Keith–I’m at a 2-day photo workshop, so I didn’t see your comments below until this morning. Hope everything went well–or at least provided a laugh! Ken

  6. Ha! I time my dishes the same way, but I don’t get to the kitchen until usually the last half hour of All Things Considered. (On BUR). Most cooking is done midway through Marketplace, and if it’s a whopper of a recipe, a little bit into On Point. It gets confusing during pledge drive when Rich turns over to GBH, because Marketplace in on at 6 instead of 6:30.

    • That’s so funny. When our son was a little guy, he and I would just be sitting down to dinner as Marketplace came on. Something about the intro music made him get this expression of glee on his face as he jiggled in his Tripp Trapp high chair while rubbing his hands one over the other, which we rapidly named his “greedy banker imitation.” Ken

  7. In about two months, I know our dinners will go upside down, because Lilli will be eating(!) and that will probably happen right when we get home from daycare. So I suspect her dinner will coincide with the 5:30 news on ATC, instead of the Beatles album of the week I choose to spin as we play on her activity mat, practice rolling, and maybe get in a book or two before bath time.

  8. Mayonnaise is a funny thing. The Japanese generally love it. My American friends growing up had different views. But I think our mayos are two different things, the US ready-made ones being much lighter and less oily and ours while not heavy (although can be high in calories), more tasty. Then again, nothing can beat homemade mayo and yours looks great.

    • The thing is, once you get the basic technique down, you can start to play with the texture and flavor. The addition of water makes for a fluffier mayo than one without. Ken

  9. I have not made homemade mayo since culinary school, but I am going to try this recipe this weekend hopefully. I was never taught anything about a towel ring, but this makes perfect sense. YOU BOTH ARE AWESOME. I always get super hungry reading your recipe and looking at the pictures…… Next they will need to add computers that release delicious aromas while viewing.

    • I’m glad we inspired you. I made a fresh batch this afternoon–you need to do that if you have teeenagers roaming around. A little under three minutes. “…that release delicious aromas…” Okay, that’s on the list. :) Ken

  10. Pouched entrées are such a great idea to serve dinner guests. Easy to prepare, they have a wow factor whenever served. Your shrimp pouches here definitely qualify. Once revealed, they make such an attractive serving. This was a wonderful post, Ken. The recipe is one I cannot wait to try and your photos were all very well-shot.

    • Thank you, John, but that’s the pot complimenting the kettle. We started doing pouches with our kids – no little kid can resist opening the bag to see what’s inside. Come to think of it, it pretty much works for adults too. Lots of fun either way. Ken

  11. This is a gorgeous dish and I’m drooling as I read along. I love seafood wrapped in parchment (I usually fish) as it’s simple yet the food retain all the flavors. Can’t wait to try this and thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hello, Marco-David–Thank you for your kind words. By the way, use brown parchment paper if you want your packages to emerge the same golden color as ours. Thanks. Ken

  12. Though my temp was a true 400, my parchment was unrepentantly white after 15 minutes.
    Since I then overbaked slightly, I made note to use U12 shrimp next time instead of U18s. (And there will definitely be a next time!! Despite my abuse, the result was a spectacular melange of aromas and flavors.)
    I always think of the Italian term for “en papillote” — “al cartoccio”. I think the word cartoccio has the same root as the cartouche papier (paper wrapped powder charge) and the same effect — the aromatic steam explodes out of the parchment when you open it. This may be a false etymology but it works for me.

    • Hello, Henry–I assume that your parchment started out white, and then stayed there. We keep both brown and white parchment on hand. In this case, we used brown–and it stayed that way. It hadn’t occurred to me that folks might think the paper was brown as a result of the time in the oven. Sorry. Clever amusing etymological twist regarding “al cartoccio.” I’m glad that the flavor still worked for you. Ken

  13. LOVE cooking in parchment, and the abundance of fresh herbs along with the scratch mayonnaise in this gorgeous dish are making me smile. I too hate mayo interruptus, it always leaves me with a blue whisk.

  14. My birthday is right before Christmas, and around June every year I slump into a sad party/presents withdrawal. The idea of unwrapping little packets of shrimp cheers me up enormously – I’m putting this dinner on my “gifts to give myself” list tout de suite! (:

    • Hi, Valerie–Nice to hear from you. When our kids were little, they always complained that we–unlike their friends’ parents–never threw them “half-year birthday parties.” Perhaps you eating shrimp in a pouch will in some small way help redeem our past as a dreadfully neglectful parents. Ken

    • The formatting on older recipes is a little bizarre (big photos, little photos, REALLY BIG PHOTOS, etc.) because we changed themes a couple of months ago, but the food’s still good. Thanks for prowling around. :-) Ken

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