January 26, 2011
As I recently noted in a post about a work-in-progress new recipe, sometimes I hit a foul - or just plain strike out - when I try out a new recipe. On the other hand, sometimes I hit it out of the park with the bases loaded. This post is about one of those times.
I like to make new recipes. Sometimes they're just a variant or refinement of some other recipe. Other times I combine elements from two or more other recipes, taking parts I like and putting them together into something new. And yet other times the new recipe is something I came up with on my own, based on some idea, or reflecting my attempt to replicate something I've tried and liked for which I don't have a recipe. Chili Shrimp with Broccoli is one of the "completely my own" recipes. It is influenced by Chinese and Thai cuisine, but I put it together based simply on my experience with those styles - and some parts of each which I really like.
The idea was simple: I wanted a spicy-sweet stir-fry featuring shrimp and a vegetable, and I wanted it to include rice noodles, but I wanted something quite distinct from a Pad Thai. With those goals in mind, I selected a vegetable - we're big broccoli fans, so that was easy - and chose some seasonings. I also decided to steal a bit I'd seen somewhere in one of the various cookbooks and magazines we own, and start out by partially caramelizing a couple tablespoons of sugar and basing the sauce on that.
That was pretty much it... with those decisions made, I just needed to add a few extra details to round out the dish.
The result was everything I'd hoped for. The caramelized sauce gives the recipe a sweet base, but it also packs potent (though not overwhelming) heat thanks to chili paste and Szechuan peppercorns. The shrimp is one of the last things added, which helps keep it from overcooking, and steaming the broccoli before adding it to the dish makes things come together quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Plus, adding the noodles to the dish itself lets you serve right from the skillet. What's not to like about that?
Not much, really. Try it out yourself. I'm pretty sure you'll be pleased with the results.
Chili Shrimp with Broccoli
yield = 4 servings
1 pound broccoli florets
6 green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
6 ounces rice noodles
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili paste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Steam the broccoli. Transfer to a bowl, add the green parts of the green onions. Cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the rice noodles in a bowl or dish. Cover with hot water and microwave 3-5 minutes, until soft (amount of time will depend on the thickness of the noodles). Drain and set aside.
Heat skillet to medium high. Add sugar and water, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and cook until the mixture turns a dark-amber color; add a bit more water if the sugar starts to solidify before darkening deeply enough. Stir in fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, garlic, vegetable oil, salt, Szechuan peppercorns and the white parts of the green onions. Cook for about one minute, then stir in the shrimp.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp has just turned opaque throughout (about 3 minutes), then stir in noodles, broccoli and cilantro. When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and serve.