Chinese-Trinidadian stir-fried shrimp with rum

I found this rather unique dish on epicurious.com and decided to try it for Sunday dinner. It’s really a variation on Chinese sour-and-sweet dishes except that it is made with dark rum instead of rice vinegar. As a result, it has a mild rather than a pronounced sour flavor. Using a dark rum instead of vinegar is really an inspired idea. It shows how the Chinese adapted their cuisine to include what is locally available, as they did in  Trinidad and Tobago, where they have lived since the early 19th century.

Chinese-Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum

Ingredients
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined with the tails on
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt 1 medium ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges
1 large bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Preparation
1. In a medium bowl toss the shrimp with the lime juice for a few seconds. Rinse the shrimp, drain, and set on a plate lined with paper towels. With more paper towels pat the shrimp dry. In a small bowl combine the ketchup, rum, soy sauce, and ground white pepper. [Cook’s Note: I didn’t have a piece of fresh ginger so I added 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to the sauce.]

2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the garlic and ginger, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Push the aromatics to the sides of the wok, carefully add the shrimp and spread them evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the shrimp begin to sear. Sprinkle on the salt and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the shrimp begin to turn orange. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp have turned almost totally orange. Swirl the ketchup mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp are just cooked through and the sauce coats the shrimp. Stir in the cilantro.

3. Serve with hot cooked rice and vegetable sides. I recommend steamed green beans lightly sprinkled with kosher salt and pan-roasted asparagus drizzled with lime juice and almond slivers.  And if you can get it, ripe plantains baked in the skin for 15 minutes.

when life gives you lemons, make spaghetti al limone

Meatless Fridays in Lent tend to be challenging, so I was pleased to find this recipe in this week’s e-mail from America’s Test Kitchen. Spaghetti al limone or spaghetti with lemons is light and delicately flavored with lemon juice and lemon zest. For a Friday night supper before going to Anna’s dance recital at NYU, this was so simple and easy to make.  I served it with steamed broccoli and a sprinkling of fresh oregano on top.

INGREDIENTS
Table salt
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus more for serving
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely grated zest (about 1 lemon)
1/4 cup juice from 2-3 lemons
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves or oregano

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Reserve 1 3⁄4 cups cooking water, drain pasta into colander, and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1 1/2 cups of reserved pasta cooking water and cream into pot; bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, return pasta, and stir until coated. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
3. Cover and let pasta stand 2 minutes, tossing frequently and adjusting consistency with remaining 1/4 cup reserved pasta water if necessary. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling individual portions with extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Creamy Caesar Fish Fillets with Tomatoes and Onions

Now that it’s Lent it’s become a challenge to go meatless on Fridays. Last weekend Marcy made this dish for dinner. It was so simple to make and so full of flavor I asked Marcy to give me the recipe. I made it and AJ loved it.

Ingredients
3 tilapia fish fillets (any white fish will do)
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup spicy hot breadcrumbs (I only had whole wheat on hand)
1 tablespoon oil, plus a little more
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 -1 1/2 cups creamy caesar dressing

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Prepare a 9 inch square baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray. Set aside.

Put the beaten egg in a plate. In another plate, put the breadcrumbs. Dip each fillet in the egg and then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a skillet and lightly fry the fillets until light brown. Put them in the prepared dish and set aside. Don’t wash the skillet

To the same skillet,  add a little more oil, if needed, and sauté the onions and tomatoes until just wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Pour the creamy caesar dressing over the fillets in the prepared baking dish. Top with the onions and tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

You Call This Yakisoba? Monkey Bread Too!

It’s not easy if you’re an omnivore to suddenly give up meat, and even if you’re an observant Catholic. AJ wasn’t too keen on this aspect of Lent although he was perfectly willing to give up riding the bus, indeed any public transportation, as a form of penance. To him, a walk was good exercise and he would do it anyway. But meatless Fridays were sure to be boring and tasteless. To make tonight’s menu more appealing, I did a variation on yakisoba and made a special dessert.

You Call This Yakisoba? (With Brown Bean Chili Sauce)
1 package fresh Japanese style noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 leaves kale, chopped
1/2 cup edamame
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup green peas
1/4 cabbage, roughly chopped
1/4 cup scallions, sliced thin
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown bean sauce (recipe follows)

Boil the carrots in a saucepan for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the peas and edamame and cook for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.Bring the water to a boil again and add the fresh noodles. Cook for about two minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Fry the cabbage. When the edges are brown, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover and simmer 2 minutes. Add the kale, carrots, garlic, and scallion. Cook 2 minutes until the kale is wilted. Combine the peas and edamame with the vegetable mixture. Add the cooked noodles and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Lift and separate the noodles with a pair of tongs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown bean chili sauce.

Brown Bean Chili Sauce
4-6 fresh red chilies, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar or lime juice
1/4 cup bean sauce, mashed
dash soy sauce, if more saltiness is desired

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. This is a pungent sauce that is perfect for boiled chicken.


Monkey Bread Too
2 cups biscuits, shredded into 1 inch pieces
2 large bananas sliced into rounds
cinnamon and sugar to taste
1/4 cup chocolate chips (white or semi-sweet)
2 tablespoons half and half

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, combine the biscuits and bananas. Add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Pour the biscuit mixture evenly into the pan. Bake 20 minutes.

In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips in 10 second increments. Add up to 2 tablespoons half and half until the chocolate is the desired consistency for pouring.

Spoon some of the bread and bananas into a small bowl and drizzle the sauce on top. Delicious!