Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

shrimp and grits

Shrimp and Grits comes from African and African-American roots. It’s often made with bacon, but I omitted it since I’m not eating pork these days. I used a few dashes of smoked paprika for a smoky flavor. I made the Cheesy grits with a broth made from shrimp shells. If I’m making shrimp for other reasons or I have a salmon skin leftover from making salmon, I freeze them and add them to the shrimp broth. You can make the broth a few hours ahead of time.

Ingredients: Serves 3

Shrimp Broth

3 1/4 cups water

Shrimp shells

3 green onions or 1/2 yellow onion

celery tops

6 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Shrimp stir fry:

9 oz shrimp (I used 24 medium shrimp, size 41/50)

1 Tb olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3/4 cup sliced bell peppers (if I don’t have fresh one on hand I use frozen ones from Trader Joe’s)

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3/4 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Dash of smoked paprika

A few grinds of black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 lemon, juiced

Cheesy Grits:

3 cups shrimp broth

1/4 tsp sea salt

3/4 cup quick cooking hominy grits

3/4 cup (2 oz) grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Defrost shrimp in refrigerator overnight. If you didn’t do that, set it in a colander in the sink and let cold water run over it for 6- 8 minutes until it is soft enough to peel.

broth

Peel the shrimp and put the shells in a small saucepan. Set the shrimp aside in a container in the refrigerator. Pour a little over 3 cups of water in the saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add some celery tops and green or yellow onion, peppercorns and a bay leaf. Let it simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

While broth is cooking, heat oil in a large frying pan until it shimmers. Add onion and turn heat down. Cook 6 to 8 minutes until the onion is soft. Stir in garlic, bell peppers, salt and spices.

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Strain broth into a medium saucepan. You should have 3 cups.

Heat the shrimp broth to boiling. Slowly whisk in grits. Turn burner to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

cooked shrimp

Add the shrimp to the skillet and stir fry until it is tightly curled and a bit brown, about 4-5 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the shrimp mixture and use a metal spatula to scrape the browned bits into it.

grits

Stir the cheese into the cooked grits until it melts.

Pour the grits into serving bowls and spread the shrimp mixture over it.

serving

Red Linguine with Prawns

linguine with prawns December 31 2017I made this on New Year’s eve and served it with a glass of white wine. Happy New Year!

Serves 3 -4

Ingredients:

12 shrimp (26/30 per pound size)

1 1/4 cups water

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 large bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sugar

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

8 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp salt, to taste

8 oz bottle clam juice

1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine

14 oz can artichoke hearts in water

4 cups baby spinach

To cook linguine:

8 – 10 oz linguine pasta (depending on how hungry your guests are)

1 gallon boiling water

Garnish:

3 Tb pine nuts (approximately)

2 Tb minced parsley

3 Tb finely grated Parmesan

Directions:

Defrost shrimp if using frozen shrimp.

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil in a small pot. Peel shrimp and add shells to the boiling water. Let cook for 15 minutes.

While shells are cooking, boil 1 gallon water in a large pot and add 1 tsp salt.

Dice onion, bell peppers and thinly slice garlic. Heat oil in a heavy pot and stir fry the onions and bell peppers until soft. Stir in sugar, garlic, oregano and basil.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Strain shrimp-shell broth into the larger tomato can and swish it around to get all the tomato juices out, then pour into the smaller can and do the same, and then add to the pot. Stir in clam juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer while you finish preparing the other ingredients, about 10-15 minutes.

Slice the artichoke hearts into quarters and add to the sauce. Stir in the shrimp.

Stir in the linguine to the boiling water, and boil uncovered according to package directions (usually 9 minutes).

Wash and mince the parsley and wash the baby spinach.  Stir in the white wine and baby spinach to the sauce. Drain the linguine and place on each plate. Spoon sauce over the linguine. Garnish with parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts. Mange!

 

 

 

 

Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

soup

This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red)
1 large Roma tomato

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

5 large basil leaves, julienned

14-oz can of coconut milk (low fat works fine, regular makes a rich soup)
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

OR 1/2 pound raw shrimp. Use medium shrimp or chop large shrimp into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions

tomato

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife.

Smash the galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves,  julienned chili, and salt.

add shrimp shells to brothDefrost frozen shrimp by placing it in a container in the fridge the night before. If you are using it straight from the freezer, defrost in a colander under cool running water for about 8 minutes.) Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the broth for extra flavor. Put shelled shrimp in a container in the refrigerator.

Simmer the broth and seasonings for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

straining flavoringsStrain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the shrimp shells, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth to boiling.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) or shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes.

When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, basil, and sliced green parts of scallion.

shrimp soup

Summer Rolls Gỏi Cuốn

 

Now that summer is officially here and we finally had a nice hot summer’s day, it’s time to make Vietamese style Summer Rolls. They are sometimes called Spring Rolls, although the Spring Rolls are often fried. Summer rolls are made with fresh, raw vegetables, with or without boiled shrimp. Gỏi Cuốn translates literally as salad rolls, which is pretty much what they are: a shrimp salad in a roll. I’ve always loved these for their burst of flavor from the fresh herbs inside heightened by the sweet spiciness of Hoisin (WHO-zjen) sauce and sweet chili sauce.

Cindy with shrimp rollMany thanks to chefs Cindy Hay (pictured above), Wyn Ha and Jenny Inpraseuth; my Southeast Asian colleagues who cheerfully and patiently taught me to make these.

Ingredients:

Asian ingredients are available at most Asian markets and Berkeley Bowl

You can make these Vegetarian/ Vegan with just salad ingredients or add fried tofu. 

Shrimp:

DSC00905About 2 cups of medium shrimp. If you buy shrimp in their shells, they make a lovely broth.

3 cups water

1 slice of fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic (use two when making tofu rolls)

1 tsp salt

Firm Tofu:

A slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container

Peanut-Hoisin dipping Sauce

Cindy told me that the sauce needs to have sweet, sour and salty flavors:

1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth. If making vegetarian, boil water with sliced garlic and ginger and 1/4 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons bottled Hoisin sauce (tương ăn phở)

2 Tb plus 1 tsp salted peanut butter (either smooth or crunchy)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1/4 tsp Siracha sauce or chili garlic paste (add more if you like it spicier)

juice from 1/2 lime

1 Tb chopped peanuts

Wrap:

1 package rice paper rounds (bánh tráng)

1 round cake pan or pie pan with warm water

Filling:

You can vary the salad ingredients, but always include mint, cilantro and basil leaves and rice noodles.

Rice vermicelli noodles (rice sticks)  size medium Bún Giang Tây.

1/3 cup cilantro leaves

1/3 cup mint leaves

1/3 cup Thai basil (you can substitute regular basil if you can’t find the more aromatic Thai basil)

4 – 6 green leaf leaves lettuce. Use the upper part of the leaves.

1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and cut in thirds

1 large peeled carrot

2 Persian cucumbers (no need to peel) or 1 peeled pickling cucumber

1/4 peeled small jicama

1/4 red bell pepper

about 6 smap peas, julieened 

6 chives, chopped in thirds or 1 scallion, green parts only, sliced thinly and chopped 4 inches long.

You can make the shrimp and Hoisin dipping sauce ahead of time.

Shrimp filling:

Defrost shrimp overnight, or in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. While shrimp is defrosting, fill a small pot with 2 cups water and add 1 tsp of salt, ginger and garlic, and bring to a boil. Bring shrimp to boil, then boil over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp in a sieve over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Cool shrimp until you are able to handle them. Peel the shrimp and cut in half crosswise (so that each half has the shrimp shape).

Pour the liquid back into the pot. Return the shells, garlic and ginger into the reserved liquid. Boil uncovered for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Pour over a sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Tofu filling:

tofu rolls and peanut sauce

Use firm or extra firm tofu. Cut about a slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container. Wrap it in a clean dish towel.

tofu-dishtowel-1

Place it on a cutting board, then place another cutting board on top. Weigh the top board down with a heavy frying pan with several bags of rice inside.

weighing tofu

After about 10 minutes, remove the tofu and unwrap it. Cut it into slabs, then halve them crosswise.

Heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a small frying pan and fry tofu. Use tongs to flip them. 

frying tofu

Let fried tofu drain on paper towels. Paint on one side with the peanut sauce:

painting tofu

Hoisin peanut dipping sauce:

peanut sauce

Stir 1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth with Hoisin sauce, coconut milk, peanut butter, and siracha in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Stir in lime juice. Pour into a ramiken or small serving bowl. Top with crushed peanuts.

If making vegetarian rolls, use water boiled for 15 minutes with 1/4 tsp salt, a slice of ginger and 2 cloves garlic instead of shrimp broth.

Prepare the noodles:

Boil 12 cups water in a a saucepan. Use about 31/2 oz  rice vermicelli noodles, also called rice sticks Bún Giang Tây (about 1/4 of a 14 oz package). Be sure they are size medium, not the very thin vermicelli.

rice sticks bun giang tay

Cook the noodles, uncovered, for 5 minutes in boiling water, stirring occasionally.

DSC00596Cool them by rinsing them in a sieve under cold water for 2 minutes. Stir and separate the noodles with a fork or chopstick so that they don’t clump up. Let them drain over a bowl.

Salad Filling:

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I use a special Asian vegetable shaver with a zigzag blade called a Kiwi Pro Slice Peeler to shave thin slices of carrots, cucumber and jicama. Rotate the vegetable as you shave it. Discard (or snack on) the cucumber core that has the seeds.

DSC00894Cut the vegetables very thin and small, Cut the bean sprouts in thirds so they don’t poke through the thin rice wrapper.

Assembly:

3 ladies rice paperSummer rolls are not too hard to make, but the trick is in rolling the sticky rice paper. It comes in a hard, almost plastic-like wafer.

I couldn’t believe it was the same thing as the soft wrapper. Magically it transforms when dipped in warm water. It softens and becomes thinner and pliable. If you dip it flat, it wants to curl up.

The trick is to hold it by the edges and rotate it through the water, then give it a quick dip in the water to wet the middle.  The whole process should take about 5 seconds. If it stays too long in the water it will become too thin and tear easily, and stick to itself. If it’s too stiff the wrapper will be too chewy. It will soften on the plate as you add the veggies so that it will be thin and flexible.dipping rice paper

Place the rice paper on a damp plate. It will soften within seconds.DSC00601Put a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon of noodles first to add a cushion for the vegetables.

DSC00625Then add a few vegetables, and a few mint, basil and cilantro leaves. Avoid over-stuffing the roll. I got excited by all the wonderful ingredients and wanted to add it all in as much as possible. My rolls became bulky and torn. Moderation in all things I remind myself.

rollingRoll wrapper halfway, and then fold left and right sides over the filling. Lay 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, with a few basil, cilantro and mint leaves along the edge of the cylinder.

If using tofu, place three pieces, sauce side down with the herbs

Finish rolling up the summer roll. Cut it in half crosswise to look prettier.

shirmp on roll

Dip your summer roll in Hoisin Peanut Sauce or sweet chili sauce.

 

 

 

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo – Garlic Shrimp

IMG_1508

On our first date, my husband and I cooked Camarones al mojo de ajo. We’ve been in love ever since.

I love the Spanish word for garlic clove: diente, which also means tooth. And there is some resemblance, come to think about it.

serves 2

2 Tb olive oil
3/4 lb large raw shrimp
1 head of garlic
A few shakes of red chili pepper flakes
¼ cup dry white wine  such as Chardonnay
1 lime, juiced
large pinch smoked Maldon salt to taste (you can use regular or sea salt if you don’t have that)

Defrost shrimp in in the refrigerator overnight or in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. Peel the shrimp and save the shells in the freezer for a future batch of shrimp broth. If you are planning to eat the shrimp with your hands, keep the tails on. But for tacos or pasta, remove them.

Smash the garlic head in a molcajete (mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock). This will loosen the peel, separate the dientes, and smash the garlic to release the flavor. Discard the garlic peel and finely mince the garlic. Mix with the peeled shrimp.

Heat olive oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan.  Add garlic and the shrimp. Toss with a metal spatula until the shrimp turn completely pink. Sprinkle with a little red chili pepper flakes. Squeeze in a large lime and add wine and scrape the pan. Salt to taste. I used a few grinds of smoked sea salt.

To make tacos, I first fry half a sliced onion and a bell pepper (you can sub a cup of frozen bell peppers) in olive oil, then set aside in a bowl. Fry the shrimp in the same pan and then mix with the onions and peppers. Cut half a large avocado (or a whole small one) into chunks, and separate cilantro leaves from stems to make about 1/2 cup of leaves. Mix all ingredients together and serve with homemade tortillas

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