Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lemongrass Chilli Shrimp

I can make more generals, but horses cost money. – Abraham Lincoln

I took my last bag of shrimp from the freezer for this recipe. I imagine it will be some time until I have shrimp again.

It’s not because anything was wrong with them. It’s because it is getting increasingly difficult to rationalize buying them. They’re too expensive.

Shrimp used to go on sale at the grocery store, periodically. Now it seems far less often. One pound of frozen shrimp was between $8.99 and $9.99 normally, and when marked down would be about $5. Now they’re $9-10 on sale. A little too rich for my blood. I used to have 3-4 bags always in my freezer. Currently the count is zero.

So when using your last bag of “gold” you have to make something good, right? This recipe falls into that category.

As I have pontificated before, certain flavours make certain dishes “signature” to a specific cuisine.

Today my sights are trained on Thailand. That means some very specific ingredients: coconut milk, Thai red “bird’s eye” chillies, lemongrass, and fish sauce.

It’s easy to always have lemongrass and chillies on hand. Buy them and freeze them. That’s what I do, and have been for several years. They keep for a very long time.

Coconut milk should be a staple in any pantry. Canned, it just sits waiting to be used. Fish sauce keeps for a very, very long time, unrefrigerated. Truth be told I’ve had bottles well over a couple years old. I haven’t died.

Fish sauce can be an acquired taste. Butt it’s a staple flavour in many Southeast Asian cuisines, including Thai. It’s made from the fermentation of fish. Believe me, it tastes better than it sounds. It’s also something that, if it’s not there, you will miss.

You can look up about fish sauce if you want, but it’s not very appealing. Do so at your peril.

Remember me telling you a few days ago to buy unusual ingredients and find out how to use them later? Fish sauce is a prime example. Another is coconut oil. I bought a big container of 100% organic at Costco for cheap. It’s a solid at room temperature.

If you have them in your pantry your Asian food will never be the same.

I added my red pepper before reducing the sauce. If you would
like crispier pepper add it at the end as in the recipe.
Lemongrass Chilli Shrimp
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 12-15 min  |  Serves 4
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 lb shrimp, peeled
1 med onion, chopped large
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Thai red chillies, diced with seeds
1 stalk lemongrass, diced
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp turbinado sugar (or light brown)
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1/3 lb snow peas, sliced in half
1 bunch green onions, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare all the ingredients before-hand. Cook some white rice while you make the main dish. It will be cooked when the sauce is finished (20 min).

Heat the coconut oil in a wok. Add the onion, garlic, chillies and lemongrass. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Then add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Let cook until reduced to about half, 5 minutes. Then add the red pepper, snow peas, green onions and shrimp. Let cook until the shrimp are cooked through. This will take about 4 minutes.

Taste for salt and adjust. (Fish sauce is salty.) Add some pepper, stir and serve over rice.


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