Sensory Evaluation: Peppa Shrimp

I had the opportunity to attend the Supper Club volunteering event at GBC last week. The Supper club was held in celebration of Black History Month to promote community. Chef Suzanne Barr led the event and invoked a fun, easy-going atmosphere. We all worked together with fellow culinary students and non-culinary students in creating delicious Jamaican dishes. After everything was cooked, we all had the opportunity to eat together as well. The standout recipe to me was the Peppa Shrimp.

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Chef Suzanne Barr directing the preparation of the Peppa Shrimp. Photo taken on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

When I first heard we were going to prepare Peppa Shrimp, my mind instantly assumed it would be shrimp with some sort of spicy pepper seasoning. I was right, but I did not think it would be at the spice level that it was. The peppers that we used were scotch bonnet peppers. I’ve never tasted a pepper that hot before.

 

5 Basic Tastes

  • Salty – The shrimp were seasoned well but not too salty. Probably the least of the tastes achieved.
  • Sweet – The scotch bonnet’s, although spicy, did have a slight sweetness to it. The peppers were also sitting in a pickle liquid containg maple syrup. Served with a side of grilled pineapple, the shrimp had a fair amount of sweetness to it.
  • Sour – Peppers were submerged in a pickling liquid containing lots of vinegar. The liquid itself and the peppers were used to create the sauce which created a very distinct sourness.
  • Bitter – The juice of lemons and oranges and the zest of limes were used as a marinate for the pineapples that were served on the side. It added a nice balance to the natural sweetness of the pineapple by incorporating some bitterness.
  • Umami – The shrimp itself has a very umami flavour like most shellfish do. The shrimp were poached in a court bouillon broth which further developed the umami flavours.

Senses

  • Taste – The main thing I could taste was the spiciness. I think for the average person, this would be too spicy for them. I enjoy spicy, even if it means I end up with nose sniffles.
  • Smell – Very strong aroma of the scotch bonnet and vinegar based sauce. It really cut through towards the sinuses.
  • Sight – Bright red/orange colour achieved by the scotch bonnet pepper sauce. Visually it was easy to tell that this dish would be spicy just by looking at it.
  • Hearing – The shrimp were cooked with shell, tail, and the head kept on. The sound of snapping the head and peeling the shell were very prevalent while everyone ate.
  • Touch – After peeling, the shrimp were very plump and juicy to the touch. The spicy sauce had a very lasting, tingling feeling on my hands as I ate.

In terms of relating this dish to something I’ve had before, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything like this in the past. The shrimp itself was a very familiar flavour but the spice from the pepper was a new experience for me. This dish was unique because it really displayed the love of spice and seafood in Jamaica by combining the two.

Something that I learned about my palate is that I am able to handle a lot more spice that I thought. I also learned that I enjoyed the pairing of sweet and spicy flavours together, it feels almost refreshing to my taste buds. I thoroughly enjoyed this food, especially because it’s encouraged to get dirty and eat with our hands. I would definitely eat this again because it was a new take on shrimp for me. I’m used to having shrimp with milder flavours, but this one packed on the heat.

My tolerance for spicy flavours has grown the older I have gotten. I have a greater appreciation for all things spicy, so as long as it doesn’t take away from the dish by overpowering all the other flavours. I also do not have much of a sweet tooth, but I can recognize when there is a subtle yet distinct sweetness added to help balance a dish.

This experience allowed me to critically analyze all the different senses being used when eating. It helped me understand the flavours that I am more fond of, and create a further acknowledgement for the ones that I am still not so sure of. This was a very enjoyable event and I hope to use this same evaluation for future dishes that are new to me.

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