July 17, 2011
I've been flipping through a lot of Southeast Asian cookbooks of late. Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Laotian and so forth... lots of interesting recipes representing a bunch of regional cooking traditions that share some influences and lots of ingredients, but which produce very different dishes. Consideration of how those different cuisines overlap and what makes them distinct is what led to today's recipe.
The spicy shrimp and vegetable dish I came up with probably has more in common with Indonesian cooking than with any other specific cuisine - in fact, it closely resembles two different recipes I've seen for an Indonesian dish called Cap Cai - but I incorporated a bunch of my favorite Asian ingredients (including sriracha sauce, hot peppers, white pepper, lime juice and - of course - ginger) to give it some distinct touches. Better yet, the hot peppers and the broccoli came from our own garden.
I'm quite pleased with how this dish came out. It doesn't taste much like anything else I've ever cooked, and I wasn't sure how well I liked it first, but after a couple bites, the complex mix of flavors really starts to sink in. The sauce is really the key. Savory, sweet and subtly hot at the same time, the sauce unifies the shrimp and the various vegetables as a coherent dish, while at the same time it brings forth the distinct flavors of each of those ingredients. The subtle flavors of the shrimp and cauliflower really stood out, as did the sweetness of the yams, but none of the flavors overwhelmed the others.
I decided to serve up this new dish with a spicier variant of my Sesame Soba Noodles. I didn't have soba noodles on hand, but linguine worked just fine, and the extra spiciness provided some continuity with the main dish at the same time the nutty sesame flavor gave the noodles their own distinct flavor. The Hot Pepper Shrimp with Vegetables would work fine with plain rice or with any of a number of seasoned or plain noodles, and the Spicy Sesame Noodles would likewise go well with a variety of dishes, but they so well together that I decided to present them together in this post.
Hot Pepper Shrimp with Vegetables
yield = 4-5 servings
1 1/4 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 fresh hot red peppers, minced
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons fresh, peeled and grated ginger
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon granulated (white) sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly-sliced
1 small yam, peeled and diced
6 green onions, white parts only, thinly-sliced
4 ounces of baby spinach
Add shrimp, minced peppers, garlic, white pepper and lime juice to a medium bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly, then cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and allow to marinate 1/2 hour.
Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until almost done (still a bit crisp). Spray w/ cold water and set aside. While the vegetables are steaming, add the chicken broth, cornstarch, fish sauce, oyster sauce, grated ginger, sriracha sauce, sugar and black pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly, then set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, yam and green onions and cook, stirring often, until the yams have started to soften and the onions are starting to brown (about 5 minutes). Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan and pour the shrimp and marinade into the center of the pan in a single layer of shrimp. Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn the shrimp and cook another minute.
Add the chicken broth mixture, stir to combine and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the steamed vegetables and the spinach to the skillet, stir to mix thoroughly, then transfer to a serving bowl or platter and serve immediately.
Spicy Sesame Noodles
yield = 4 servings
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
2 teaspoons fresh peeled and grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon table salt
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoons thinly-sliced green onions (green parts only)
Start 3 quarts water boiling in a Dutch oven or similar pan. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, sriracha sauce, ginger and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water and cook per package directions. Drain, then immediately transfer pasta to a serving bowl. Add the soy sauce mixture and one tablespoon of the toasted sesame seeds. Toss to mix thoroughly, then sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon sesame seeds and the green onions. Serve hot.