Archives for category: Shrimp

I am the worst blogger ever.  My last post was in February.  I’m not even going to try and explain why I haven’t posted because there’s no real reason.  As a matter of fact, I photographed this recipe three weeks ago. Just. Plain. Lazy. Anyway, during my unplanned hiatus my husband and I took a much needed vacation.  We visited Thailand and had a fabulous time.  We went to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  Thailand was so different than what I had pictured in my mind.  It was the first time my husband or I had been there and we both loved it.

I pictured Bangkok to be a hectic city.  In some ways it is, but I mostly saw it as controlled chaos.  Traffic without beeping or honking.  Everything was beautifully orchestrated.  I can still hear the lovely greeting, “Sawadee kha”  echoing in my head.  I loved the Thai people.  They were so friendly.  I saw so many smiling faces in Thailand that I began to smile for no reason at all.

I could picture myself living in Bangkok.  I do say that for a lot of cities I visit, but Bangkok appealed to me very much.  Koh Samui was also fantastic.  The hotel we stayed at was super quirky and really fun.  The Island had some rundown parts and also some parts that were absolutely spectacular.  Beautiful ocean, like I’ve never seen before.  All in all I have fond memories of our trip to Thailand.

Let me discuss the food!  We ate and ate.  I got so used to eating lavish breakfast spreads that when I got back home a bowl of cereal and fruit in the morning was not cutting it at all.  We enjoyed spicy curries and surpassed our quota of seafood for a year.  I miss all the softshell crab dishes with lots of red chilies, Thai basil, and lemongrass.

We ate gargantuan river prawns, simply grilled and served with a refreshing fresh chopped vegetable relish.  This was one of my favorite dishes in Thailand.  We don’t get prawns like that here.  The week after we returned I was craving the grilled prawns so much that I had to make them.  I had no real recipe, but with some trial and error I got it right.

I was so excited that I was upset my husband wasn’t at home to try them hot and fresh.  When he got home and tried them, I sat next to him eagerly and kept looking at him to say, “these taste just like the ones in Thailand!”  After I finally asked him, he agreed and continued to watch the TV un-phased, typical.  Here’s the recipe and I hope you try them.  And if you’ve been to Thailand and find they taste THE SAME, do let me know. 😉

Grilled Thai Prawns with a Fresh Vegetable Relish

serves 3-4, as a starter, can easily be doubled or tripled

Ingredients

for the shrimp

1 pound large-size shell-on prawns/shrimp, de-veined

2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil of your choice

2 tablespoons tamarind pulp

2-3 cloves garlic, mashed

1 inch piece of ginger

1 stalk lemon grass

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 long red chilli, roughly chopped, de-seeded if you like

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste (this much will make it spicy)

sea salt, to taste

for the Fresh Vegetable Relish

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 radish, finely chopped (I used a watermelon radish for color)

1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced

1 red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped

1/2 stalk of lemon grass, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

juice of 1 lime

fresh chopped herbs like cilantro, Thai basil, or mint

salt, to taste

Method

Place the shrimp in a bowl.  Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp in a blender or food processor.  Pulse ingredients in the blender until pureed and well combined.  Pour the marinade over the shrimp and toss with the shrimp.  Marinate the shrimp in the fridge for 1-2 hours.  After 1-2 hours, heat a grill pan or use an outdoor grill and grill the shrimp on each side until cooked.  it should take about 2 minutes per side.  If you would like you may grill the shrimp on skewers.

While the shrimp is marinating prepare the relish by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with the shrimp after it is done on the grill.  I also like to serve red chili paste on the side for some extra spice.  Serve with lime wedges as well.

I have tried to write this post for a few days now, finding it kind of out of place.  With so many people suffering right now, I felt a sort of guilt that I have the luxury to write a blog post about soup whereas for many this would be the last thing on their mind.  I couldn’t find a way to fit it together without sounding forced.  Usually I have an idea about what my blog post is going to be about.  Here I am just typing, whatever words come out, I don’t know.  Let’s hope it makes some sense.

The world has been a tumultuous place lately–revolutions, earthquakes, floods, poverty, slavery, injustice.  I guess these things have always existed, maybe I just notice more now, now that I’m older and not as aloof as I used to be.  I watch the news in a daze sometimes, in awe of the hate and the suffering in the world.  My eyes often well up with tears and I hold them in.  My husband would tease me and call me a softy.  I feel safe where I am, just as people all over the world feel safe in their homes, eating meals cooked by loves ones everyday.  Sometimes we are shaken, as life can throw a curve at us.  It’s amazing how resilient the human spirit can be–how strong we are.

We do what we have to to get by.  A mother will still look after her children even when her world is shaken.  She will find a way to feed and comfort them.  Eating gives us fuel, gives us a feeling of the familiar.  We all have our favorite meals and sometimes when you sit down to a meal after a long hard day, you can unwind and just relish in food.

This Thai Soup is a family favorite.  Usually in restaurants, it’s called Tom Yum Goong, but I couldn’t find lime leaves, galangal, and Thai Basil, so I improvised.  The results were still delicious.  I also added coconut milk, because something about the aroma of coconut milk soothes the soul–comfort.  Chilies and spiciness are also soothing for me.  We always ask for our Thai food extra spicy.  Sometimes we regret it, but most times we enjoy the fiery spice.  How ever you like your soup, enjoy it and take a minute or two to reflect on life and be grateful for the small things.

Thai Style Soup with Shrimp

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

Vegetable oil of your choice

2 shallots, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic roughly chopped

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stalk of lemon grass, bruised with a knife and roughly chopped

zest and juice of one lime

6 dried red chilies, or to taste and a few extra for the broth

1 tablespoon brown sugar

15 sprigs of cilantro, stems included

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, any size you prefer

crimini mushrooms, quartered

handful of pea pods, optional

6-8 cups chicken stock

salt, to taste

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 3/4 cup coconut milk, I used light

1 red chili, sliced

1 green chili, sliced

cilantro, basil, limes, for garnish (or any combination)

Method

Put the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime zest/juice, dried red chilies, brown sugar, and cilantro springs in a food process and pulse until it forms a smooth paste.

Next, heat a large pot on medium and heat about 1 tablespoon of oil and add the paste to the oil and mix for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and mix the paste and chicken stock well so tat they become uniform. Taste for salt, and add salt, if necessary.  Also, throw in a few extra dried red chilies into the broth, optional.

Cook until the stock boils, once the stock boils add in the coconut milk and let it come to a boil again.  Add in the fish sauce and let the soup boil until you can see the oil separately.

Add in the mushrooms, pea pods, and shrimp and cook until the shrimp turns pink.  Garish with the red and green chilies, cilantro, basil, limes.  Serve hot.

A few other recipes of Thai Soup:

Temple of Thai

The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook

Thai Food About

Rasa Malaysia

**A good breakdown of a few organizations you can donate through for earthquake/tsunami relief via Slow Like Honey**

If you are from New England and you don’t love chowder, something is seriously wrong with you.  Chowdahh as it is more accurately pronounced is a seaside staple, especially during the summer months.  I remember going to the beach and feasting on chowder and clam cakes.  One of my earliest memories of cooking myself revolves around chowder.  I would open up a can of Snow’s Clam Chowder in a small saucepan thinking I was really cooking and add some pepper, red chili powder (that would be the Pakistani inside me), and some dried herbs.  I was incredibly proud of myself and would make everyone in my family try what I “made.”

In this shrimp chowder I basically did the same thing, except I made the soup from scratch.  I doctored up the original version.  Although some would consider it blasphemous to alter a Clam Chowder, well the New England Version, at least.  Come to think of it, it has been adulterated a few times.  There are of course the Manhattan and Rhode Island clear version (which I never really cared for, not rich enough for me).  Taking that into consideration my version is perfectly fine and any purists can…umm, not eat it, I guess.

In this version, I omitted the clams, because my husband is allergic to them, grrrrr.  I think I was going for a Southwest feel for this chowder, but I can’t exactly say that turned out to be Southwest, it actually was a little Thai tasting.  This is probably because I relate the taste of coconut milk so much to Thai food.  I was anticipating that this soup would take hours with me hovering over the pot stirring away.  This was not the case, it was done in 30 minutes and left me with some free time.

My husband loved this chowder and was oohing and ahhing, saying he can’t wait to come home for dinner and getting all sentimental.  Ladies and gentleman, cook this for your significant other and you may get a similar reaction.

Shrimp, Coconut Milk, and Corn Chowder

adapted from Real Simple, recipe here

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 a pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined (I remove the tails, because it is a pain to remove when eating soup)

1 small red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Yukon Gold potato, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1-2 jalapenos, diced, seeds and ribs removed (use only 1 for a mild chowder)

1/2 cup haricots verts, ends removed and cut into small pieces on an angle

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

crushed red chilies, to taste (optional)

1 bay leaf

salt, to taste

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade and low-sodium

1 cup light coconut milk

chives, cilantro, and lime wedges, for garnish

Method

Heat the oil on medium to medium-low heat in a large stewing pot or saucepan.  Add in the onion, carrot, jalapenos, and bay leaf.  Allow them to sweat and become translucent, about 10 minutes.  Next, add in the potatoes, corn, and all the spices including the salt and cook for two minutes.  Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Let the potatoes get cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.  When the potatoes are cooked, toss in the shrimp and the haricots verts and allow the shrimp to get pink and cooked, about 4-5 minutes.  Serve with a garnish of cilantro and chives, and a wedge of lime.

Bread and a combination of cheese, meat, vegetables, and spreads is absolute bliss to me.  This sandwich is so quick, I think everything was done in 15 minutes from start to finish.  My husband is having exams these days so he’s home for dinner then back to the library.  I’m on a deadline!  Sandwiches fit in perfectly with these “deadlines.”  No, he’s not at all a tyrant who will scream if dinner is not on the table, but I would just like him to maximize his study time.

I coated the shrimp in cornstarch, chili flakes, and salt and lightly pan fried them so that they would slightly resemble the shrimp in po’ boys.  MMMMmmmmMMMMmmm po’ boys, how I love thee.  I guess this is my ultra quick version of a po’ boy minus the remoulade and the french bread.  But, hey I had some sort of inspiration to lead me to this sandwich.

If you recall I used harissa in a salad. I wanted to spruce up the regular mayo but didn’t have the time to chop up herbs and the like, so a squeeze of harissa into the mayo created a really nice spicy mayo that I would make again the same exact way even if I had the time to chop herbs.  My favorite sandwich combination is arugula, tomatoes, avocado, and red onion.  I forgot the red onion in this one, though I have no idea how I did. 🙂  This turned out to be a triple decker club, hope you enjoy it!

This recipe is one of those recipes that you wonder why I would even post it because it’s so easy.  I feel like that when I watch some cooking shows and they teach you something anyone can do without thinking.  But this was really yum, so I wanted to share it with you. 🙂

Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato, Arugula, Harissa Mayo Club

Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed

2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

handful of arugula

half an avocado, sliced

1 tomato, sliced

3 tablespoons of mayo mixed with 1 teaspoon of harissa paste

6 slices multigrain bread, or any bread of your choice (if you don’t want to add an extra slice of bread just use 2 slices)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

Toss the shrimp with cornstarch, chili flakes, and salt.  Pan fry in oil about 3 minutes per side or until cooked.  Toast the bread and spread the harissa mayo on the bread (both sides or one side).  Add the shrimp and arugula to one layer and then tomato and arugula on the next layer of the triple-decker.  Cut across diagonally and serve.


Shrimp scampi is something I can say I have mastered.  Well, for one it’s not something that requires anything special to master and secondly, everyone loves it.  I always have people asking me how I make it, and I sometimes feel embarrassed to say anyone can make this.  It’s so easy but gives the impression that you have actually put a good amount of effort into it.  When I lived with my parents, we would often make this for guests and they loved it.  I think it’s in the sauce; because of its richness.  You don’t even need the linguine I added to it.  The linguine is just an after thought.  Just serve it with some nice crusty warm bread for soaking up the sauce and you’ll be all set!

This dish also offers a lot of freshness.  I adore fresh herbs and always have my fridge stocked.  They just perk up any dish.  If I have people over I simply cannot not garnish my food with piles of herbs.  Even just cooking at home, I will not make something if I don’t have the herbs for it.  It’s just not the same.  I can say that I will judge you if you don’t use fresh herbs *snicker.*  Teasing aside, I think I have made my passion for herbs quite apparent.  Another freshness component to this dish is the lemon.  I use just half of a lemon for it’s juice and half for the zest and the zested half for a nice lemon slice garnish inspired by Ina Garten.  I always use caution when adding lemon juice or zest to something.  To me sometimes recipes call for too much and then all you taste is lemon.  I think I have mentioned it before, but too much lemon reminds me of Pinesol.

I add shallots and tomatoes as well to break away from the norm.  I like the roundness they give to the scampi.  As with most dishes, I add extra spice to mine but use as much as you like.

Shrimp Scampi

adapted from Ina Garten’s Linguine with Shrimp Scampi from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (I remove the tails as well)

6-7 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots minced

1 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling at the end)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 lemon (half for juice, half zested, and the zested half cut into rounds)

2-3 tablespoons of light cream

3/4 of a teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 teaspooon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, optional

2 tablespoons chopped chives (use more or less)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (use more or less)

parmigiano reggiano shavings, optional

1/2 box of linguine (I used whole wheat because that’s what I had on hand)

Method

Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes (do not drain it from the water).  Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan on medium heat.  Add the olive oil and turn down the heat to medium low.  Put the butter in the pan and after 1 minute add 1/2 teaspoon of the red chili flakes and allow it to infuse the oil for about 30 seconds.  Add the shallots and allow them to sweat for about 2-3 minutes.  Next add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes, make sure it doesn’t burn.  At this point put it the chopped tomato.  Let it sweat for 1-2 minutes.  Turn up the heat to medium.  When the pan is ready add the shrimp and salt/black pepper and allow the shrimp to turn pink.  This will take about 5-7 minutes.  Do not overcook because they will get stringy.  Turn the heat to the lowest setting and add the juice of half a lemon.  Next, stir in the cream.  Add the pasta directly from the pasta water to the shrimp pan using tongs, so that a little of the starchy water goes into the scampi.  Top with the chives, parsley, lemon zest, lemon slices, 1/4 teaspoon of red chili flakes, pamigiano reggiano, and toss.   Drizzle the top with olive oil.

IMG_8052Yesterday, on my walk home from the gym an entirely random craving for Spicy Wok Basil Noodles came over me .  This past summer my husband and I were both working research positions in New Haven, Connecticut.  New Haven, an unexpected mix of “Yalies” and urban culture had a surprisingly good restaurant scene.  It is also well catered to the student population.  Our living arrangements this summer, were last minute and may I say less than desirable.  I hardly stepped foot in the kitchen of the apartment we were staying at, much to my husband’s dismay.  Basically, we ate out quite often (everyday).  (Thankfully, we were able to move out after a month to a better place 🙂 ).  A note to women– please do not let your husband/boyfriend/partner pick out a place to live because they can adapt anywhere, whereas we cannot!  Anyway, enough with my rant!

Back to the food!  In New Haven, we stumbled upon a restaurant or more aptly, a dive called York Street Noodle.  It is an entirely “studenty” place that serves noodle bowls and wok creations.  Every time we went there I ordered the Spicy Wok Basil Noodle (either vegetarian or shrimp).  I always asked them to make it extra spicy for me and Yummmm, it just hit the spot!  I know my re-creation can never be AS good.  To my surprise, my version turned out quite good, not the exactly the same but pretty close.  My husband loved it so much he had three servings, which can only mean it was tasty!

IMG_8041

I have conducted an in-depth online search in order to find a recipe resembling it but, unfortunately, no luck.  But, I did find a photograph of the dish here yay!  My inspiration comes from this picture and my memories of the dish’s flavor.  A close cousin to this dish would be Drunken Noodles.

The noodles are wide and velvety.  There isn’t a sauce but a glistening glaze covering the noodles.  The flavor is smokey, nutty, and spicy.  The vegetables were pretty basic; green peppers (I substituted red peppers), mushrooms, white onions (I substituted shallots), wilted basil, and scallions.

IMG_8034IMG_7889

My version is as follows:

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon of ginger of galangal, minced

3 shallots, sliced

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced (stems removed)

Handful of snow peas (clean by pulling off strings)

1 cup firm tofu, cubed

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (any size to your liking)

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or to your liking)

1/3 of 16 ounce package of wide rice vermicelli noodles, Banh Pho

5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce, Nuac Mam Dac Biet

1 tablespoon scant rice vinegar

juice of 1/2 lime

2 teaspoons chili oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teapsoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

crushed red chiles to taste (I used 1 tsp for spicy)

10-15 Thai basil leaves (I was not able to find Thai basil so I used regular basil)

2 scallions, sliced on a bias

a few cilantro and basil leaves, for garnish

1/2 a lime in wedges, for garnish

Method:

Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar,  1 teaspoon of the chili oil, lime juice, sugar, cornstarch, kosher salt, crushed red chiles in a bowl, set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, then put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water allow to soften, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fry tofu on medium heat in 1 teaspoon of oil until golden, about 5 minutes, set aside.  Keep heat on medium, add 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok, when oil is heated add the shallots and allow to sweat.  Add garlic and ginger and stir constantly so they do not burn.  Next add shiitakes and allow to soften, add red peppers and snow peas at the end, for about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from wok and set aside with tofu.  Put the remaining oil in the wok and fry shrimp lightly, add the vegetables and tofu that was set aside.  Add the basil leaves and allow them to wilt.  Next, add the sauce and combine everything together.  Add the softened noodles (make sure to drain the water).  Toss everything together until the shrimp are cooked, about 5 minutes.  (Do not over cook, they can become rubbery; also keep the vegetables crisp, otherwise they will be soggy).  Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon of chili oil on top.  Add scallions and garnish with limes, cilantro, and basil.  Serve immediately.

Note:  I know this dish requires quite a few ingredients.  But, keeping a well stocked pantry will avoid a high grocery bill when making such a dish.  I always keep these sauces on hand so that I can whip up a fast dinner.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, you do not have to make a special trip to get snow peas if you don’t have them on hand.  If you would like to substitute chicken, beef, or make it vegetarian, feel free!  Adapt it to your tastes!  This dish took me 45 minutes with all the chopping.  Enjoy!