thai curry shrimp

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Sometimes a curry is just too soupy and I prefer a dipping sauce. This dish is my response to a kaeng.  The shrimp is tender, the sauce salty and spicy, the salsa sweet, tart, and fresh.

Thai Curry Shrimp

1 – 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with or without tails
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 small limes
1/2 cup palm sugar simple syrup
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nam pla or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2-1  teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (add more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil

To make the simple syrup, break up 1 1/2 cakes palm sugar in a small saucepan and add 5-6 tablespoons water. Boil until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, cooled syrup, cilantro, garlic, curry, turmeric, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and Sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the shrimp. Let stand 1 hour. Don’t let it stand longer than that or the lime juice will “cook” the shrimp.

Heat a tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and put in the hot oil to cook for one minute without turning. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the marinade to the skillet and let it reduce until thickened. Return the shrimp to the skillet to finish cooking. Serve with mango-tomato salsa and white rice.

Mango-Tomato Salsa

1 large mango cut off the seed into 1” cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup scallion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Juice of 1 small lime
1 Thai chile, chopped (optional)
sugar to taste

Mix together all the ingredients. Taste. If the salsa is too sour, add a bit of sugar to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

spicy sweet corn, zucchini, and ricotta fritters with fresh tomato salsa

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I was thinking again how much these fritters remind me of shrimp fritters. The first time I made them, I followed the original recipe. This time around, I changed things up. So I added more flour, lots of black pepper, and some fresh chilies. The chilies add flavor to the fritters, but if you want more heat, leave in the seeds. I like a tomato salsa with these fritters, and I prefer to make my own as the store-bought tends to be salty and sour. And fresh tastes better anyway!

Spicy Sweet Corn, Zucchini, & Ricotta Fritters (adapted from Taste.com)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 16-20 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 cups self rising flour, plus more for thickening
2 1/2 cups fresh corn, about 2 medium ears
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, about 2 medium
1 small green sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons black pepper, coarse ground
3-4 red chilies, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed

Fresh tomato salsa, for serving
Baby cos lettuce (romaine lettuce), for serving

Method:
Whisk milk and eggs together. Add ricotta cheese and blend well. Add flour gradually, blending it in, stirring constantly so there are no lumps and a smooth batter forms. Add corn, zucchini and pepper. Stir in the scallions, black pepper, and the chilies. Season to taste with salt. The batter should be thick. Because the zucchini springs water, add more flour as needed. Test it—the batter should mound when dropped from a spoon. If it doesn’t, add more flour a tablespoon at a time.

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until oil shimmers. Using a 1/4 cup measure, mound three scoops of batter into the skillet and fry until golden on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and do the second side for another 2-3 minutes. If the heat is too hot, and the fritters fry up too quickly, turn down the heat a little. Do a second batch, adding more oil as needed. When you do, you will have to let the oil heat up again. Continue until all the batter is used up.

Drain fritters on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking tray. Serve with a fresh tomato salsa and baby cos leaves. Makes about 24 fritters.

Fresh Tomato Salsa (adapted from Eating Well)
• 1 large tomato, diced (or 2 medium)
• 1/4 cup scallion, minced
• 1-2 chilies, seeded and minced
• lime juice (half a small lime)
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serving Suggestion: Serve fritters with Tzatziki Sauce.

fish tacos with corn-guava-avocado salsa

DSC03876 We woke up this morning to discover one of the neighbors looking in through the window. It’s been pretty quiet in the condo complex because of the switch over in the school year at the university from June to March to August to June. This means that this year’s summer holiday is 5 months long. Not many uni students are back yet of course, and at the high school, we are just beginning our two month summer break. The students seemed quite bewildered, some of them, at suddenly having nothing to do after exams last Tuesday were over. Since some of their friends came back for ROTC on Wednesday afternoon, they decided to show solidarity and showed up at school for old times’ sake. I suppose this curious visitor was doing the same thing, wondering where everybody had gone. What should he do now that his time is his own?

DSC03881With grades in, I’ve been cooking with the electric pan. The lid can open out and double the cooking surface, so I have both a skillet and a griddle. Cooking on the balcony is somewhat challenging because there is no electrical outlet so I have to run an extra long extension cord outside. Plus, there is just a little two-foot square space right next to the sink. If I angle the pan just so I can open it out. Last night for supper I made grilled chicken thighs, but I had made them in Bangkok. We ate them with a mango-avocado salsa. If it seems that we are eating more avocado it is because we found them for Baht 20 apiece at the Suan Luang market yesterday.  We bought 6 and the vendor added 1 more for goodwill. I hope she will be there next weekend. I love avocado.

 

DSC03885Because I love to eat, I really should exercise more. To respect one’s body is to exercise, and then to eat good food that is fresh and homemade. Today, we rode our bikes around Phuttamonthon, the Buddhist park, and then we each swam 500 meters in the Sirimongkol Pool. We decided to eat in rather than eat out. For lunch today I prepared lightly sauteed pangasius fillets which we ate wrapped inside warm flour tortillas topped with corn-guava-avocado salsa and Greek-style yogurt.  It’s so good to be cooking again!

 

 

Fish Tacos with Corn-Guava-Avocado Salsa

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (in a double electric pan heated to 180˚C)

2 white fish fillets (e.g. tilapia)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon rice bran oil
4 flour tortillas

Pat dry the fillets then sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Lightly sauté in a little oil until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas. Keep warm until ready to serve. Cut the fillets into large chunks just before eating.

Corn-Guava-Avocado Salsa
1 ear of fresh corn, niblets removed from the cob
1 small Thai guava, peeled, seeded, and chopped (can substitute jicama or mun kaew)
1 medium avocado, peeled, pit removed, and chopped
8 grape tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 of a large onion, thinly sliced
the juice of 3 small limes
salt to taste
1 tablespoon minced scallion for garnish
1-2 chopped fresh Thai chilies, optional

Lightly cook the corn in the microwave for 4 minutes, drain the niblets and cool them. In a medium bowl, put the niblets, the guava, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro and onion. Squeeze the lime juice all over. Add salt to taste. Garnish with scallion and chilies, if using, and spoon over fish chunks on top of a warm tortilla. Put a generous dollop of yogurt on top and eat–leave out that steaming side-dish of guilt and enjoy. It’s low in carbs and calories.

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

This juicy pork tenderloin recipe was inspired by Gina at skinnytaste. com.  To me it is mildly spicy, and the cool slightly sweet salsa accompaniment just soothes the tongue!
P.S. I wanted to add this note to anyone concerned about the safety of pink pork. Pork is safe to eat when the internal temperature rises to 150˚F. For more information visit this link by America’s Test Kitchen/Shine Food.

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Mango-Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Prep time: 5 hours (or overnight) plus 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-35 minutes depending on the weight
Servings: 6-8 as appetizer, 2-4 as main course

Ingredients:
• 1 lb lean pork tenderloin, all fat and silver removed
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 – 3 tablespoons Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 lime, squeezed
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/4 -1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

For the salsa:
• 2 Haas avocadoes, diced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 2 large ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
• 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine the garlic, jerk seasoning, and salt, rub all over pork (wear gloves if you wish). Place in a 8 inch square pan, then pour the lime and orange juices over the pork. Turn so that the juices cover all the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally.

The next day (or 5 hours later), preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Bake the pork 25 minutes for 3/4 pound roast or up to 35 minutes for at 1 pound roast. When it has reached an internal temperature of 155˚F (check it 5 minutes before time is up), remove it from the oven and let it rest on the stovetop. The tenderloin should come to 160˚F during resting, about 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Meanwhile make the salsa: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.

black bean quesadillas

This is my first summer in New York, and it’s packed to the humid skies with locals and tourists. I miss summers in Calgary, where the sidewalks are lonely and the humidity is low. Summer is not the season for cooking in the kitchen, and I have discovered that Eating Well has a number of Quick and Easy recipes online. Black Bean Quesadillas, I love you! I adapted the recipe by increasing the cheese and the salsa. I left out the oil and just used my grill pan to toast the tortillas. It really doesn’t need oil to cook. Whole wheat tortillas have a nutty toasty flavor anyway!

Black Bean Quesadillas

Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/2 – 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack
1 cup prepared fresh salsa, divided (I bought mild salsa from Trader Joe’s)
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas (I used rectangular whole wheat roll-ups)
1 ripe avocado, diced, optional

Preparation
1. Combine beans, cheese and 1/4 – 1/2 cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread 1/2 cup filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.
2. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 3 to 6 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat. Serve the quesadillas with avocado, if desired, and the remaining salsa.

shrimp lettuce wraps with pineapple salsa

When I started to make the salsa there was something familiar about it. I had made it before for the September 16th post! I must be losing my mind… Actually, the two recipes in the Light and Healthy cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen (2011) both use a pineapple salsa. Except this one adds jicama to it. I could not find jicama so I chopped up half a green apple and threw it in. If I was in my kitchen in Bangkok, I would have cut up a farang or guava instead. Originally called Shrimp Tacos, this is the low-cal version of a seafood taco: instead of refried beans, this “taco” is accompanied by mashed avocado. America’s Test Kitchen cooks advise you not to let the shrimp marinate for longer than 15 minutes or the acid marinade will begin to “cook” the shrimp and turn them rubbery. To lower the calories of this dish, I substituted iceberg lettuce for the corn tortillas. I liked the taste and the textures of this dish, a symphony of crisp crunchy lettuce, spicy grilled shrimp, and tangy-sweet salsa with avocado in the high notes.

Accompaniment
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
Salt

Using a potato masher, mash the avocado with 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice until some chunks remain. Season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pineapple-Green Apple Salsa
1/2 green apple, cored and stemmed, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces (10 oz jicama in original recipe)
10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) fresh pineapple cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1-2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed and minced (remove seeds if you want less heat)
Salt

Combine apple, pineapple, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeño in a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Shrimp
I was supposed to heat the spices but since I did not have ground coriander, I made a paste out of chopped fresh cilantro and the remaining spices. I left out the sugar as the purpose of adding it was to caramelize the shrimp, an unnecessary step to me.

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (1 teaspoon ground coriander in original recipe)
3-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I omit this)
1 1/2 pounds extra large frozen shrimp (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Iceberg lettuce (12 x 6-inch corn tortillas in original recipe)

In the workbowl of a food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and set aside. Scrape the cilantro mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

Butterfly the shrimp. First, remove the shells over the tail, then split the curved back of the shrimp until you can open out both halves but not separate them. Butterflying helps the shrimp to cook faster and more evenly. Put the shrimp in the bowl with the cilantro mixture and toss to coat evenly. Thread the shrimp onto skewers and grill (2-4 minutes) or broil (10 minutes) until the shrimp turns opaque and just pink.

Note:
Serve at once with accompaniment and salsa. I served it with Asian Avocado Salad and in this way used up the large avocado I had bought and the other half of the green apple.

Per serving: Cal 410; Fat 14g; Sat fat 1.5g; Chol 170mg; Carb 45g; Protein 27g; Fiber 8g; Sodium 450mg (will vary because of the substitutions)

chicken and fennel meatballs

I liked the fact this recipe said to pinch off a bit and cook it up, taste it, and adjust seasoning. And that’s what I did.  I increased the amount of fennel, black pepper, and garlic, and I used egg whites instead of whole eggs. It wasn’t bad. I didn’t make the salsa verde because I couldn’t find the tinned tomatillos. Instead I bought a jar of Classico Cabernet Marinara and threw into it some leftover broccoli. This recipe comes from a Canadian magazine City Palate.ca. Thanks for the magazine, Ardis!

Serves six.

Meatballs
Extra virgin olive oil/cooking spray
2 lb ground chicken
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon kosher or coarse salt
1/2 cup finely chopped bacon (didn’t say cooked or raw, so raw it must be!)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped (sub cilantro)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine
2 egg whites

Salsa Verde
1 can tomatillos
2-3 serrano chilies, seeded and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
salt to taste
olive oil to drizzle

Spaghetti, cooked (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Drizzle a medium casserole dish with olive oil and set it aside.
  2. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix the ingredients together with your hands until they are just combined, making sure not to over mix. The mixture should feel slightly tacky and wet. Pinch off a small piece, flatten it out and cook it in the oven. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the mixture accordingly.
  3. Form the mixture into 1-1/2-inch balls and place them in the prepared casserole dish. Bake the meatballs, rotating the dish halfway through cooking, for 20 minutes until golden brown and fully cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa verde. In a blender, purée the tomatoes. Then add the chilies, cilantro, and salt. Continue to blend until the cilantro is finely chopped but not completely puréed. Transfer the meatballs to a sauté pan, our the salsa verde over them and warm through. Serve drizzled with olive oil. Eat with cooked spaghetti, if you wish.