May 28, 2011

Sesame Shrimp with Asparagus and Basil

Today's recipe is one I came up with by deciding to toss together several of my favorite foods and flavors - shrimp, asparagus, pasta, basil, sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, lime juice and rice wine - in one dish.  It isn't really an Asian dish, despite the presence of a variety of typically Asian seasonings and ingredients.  It isn't even representative enough of any specific cuisines to really qualify as a fusion dish.  It really is just a hodge-podge.   It's still darn good, though.

Technique-wise, this recipe is pretty basic.   Cook some pasta, heat up some oil, fry the asparagus and shrimp in the oil, add some aromatic seasonings, stir in some liquid ingredients to make a sauce, stir the pasta and some basil in after the sauce thickens, then add a garnish and serve.  It comes together quickly - everything else can be prepared and made in the time it takes to get the water boiling and cook the pasta - and the whole dish requires only two pans, so clean-up is also easy. 

So, if you are looking for a quick, easy recipe that delivers tender-crisp asparagus, perfectly-cooked shrimp and noodles, all brought together with a savory sauce, this one might be just what you're looking for.  Give it a try.

Sesame Shrimp with Asparagus and Basil

yield = 4 servings

12            ounces thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta
3/4           cup low-sodium chicken broth
2              tablespoons soy sauce
2              tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1              tablespoon mirin (rice wine)
1              tablespoon soy sauce
3              teaspoons sesame oil
1              tablespoon peanut oil
1 1/2        pounds asparagus spears, trimmed and cut
                  into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2        pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1              tablespoon fresh, peeled and grated ginger
2              teaspoons minced garlic
1/4           teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4           cup fresh basil, thinly-sliced
1              tablespoon black (or ordinary) sesame seeds

Add four quarts water and 1 teaspoon table salt to a large pot.  Bring to a boil, add pasta, cook per package directions then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, add chicken broth, soy sauce, lime juice, mirin, corn starch and 1 teaspoon sesame oil to a small bowl.  Stir together to combine, then set aside.

Add the peanut oil and two teaspoons sesame oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the asparagus pieces and stir-fry, stirring often, 3-4 minutes. 

Add the shrimp, cook on one side for about 2 minutes, then turn the shrimp and cook another minute. 

Clear a spot in the middle of the skillet and add the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. 

Cook about 45 seconds, then stir in the chicken broth mixture and cook until the sauce thickens (about 1 minute).  Stir in the cooked pasta.   Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the basil and sesame seeds.   Serve.

When I made this recipe, I didn't have any Thai basil handy, but if you have some, using Thai basil in place of ordinary, sweet basil would give the dish a more distinctly Asian flavor. 

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