SHRIMP STIR-FRY, KUNG PAO-INSPIRED

This is not authentic Chinese cooking. It is my version of a stir-fry, inspired by a classic. By definition, Kung Pao is a stir-fry served with spicy sauce, and sprinkled with peanuts. So I guess I am reasonably safe with my concoction. The inclusion of sugar snap peas adds extra veggies that make the whole thing more satisfying to me. Tune the spices to your comfort level, but please make sure to include Szechuan peppercorns. You cannot get the same type of heat from any other pepper.

KUNG PAO-INSPIRED SHRIMP
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/3 cup roasted cashews
1 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in large slices
sugar snap peas, amount to taste, around 6 oz
salt to taste
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoons sambal oelek
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
drizzle of sesame oil

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for about 1 minute. When you see the first wisps of white smoke, swirl in one tablespoon of the vegetable oil, then add the peppercorns and sautee for a few seconds. Add the cashews, bell pepper and sugar snap peas. Season lightly with salt. Stir fry for a few minutes, remove from the pan, reserve.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, when very hot add the shrimp and stir fry until it starts to get cooked through. Return the vegetables and cashews to the pan, add the oyster sauce and sambal. Stir for a minute or so, pour in the cornstarch/water. Let everything come to a boil, cook until fragrant and luscious. Adjust seasoning. Serve over white rice if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was a great simple dish to prepare after an intense day of work. After more than a decade without facing a classroom, I am teaching college students and let’s say the stress level goes up a bit. It is nice to have a meal that does not require too much time and too much effort. Stir-fry to the rescue!

Adjust the spice level to your liking, if you are feeling brave get some habaneros to the party… I always flirt with the habanero idea, but never go for it. I guess my Dad would be disappointed.

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VIETNAMESE “PIZZA”: BANH TRANG NUONG

I am super excited to share this recipe with you! I had never heard of this concoction, which is essentially a street food in Vietnam. But during our trip to California last month I had the chance to try it in a restaurant in Los Gatos and could not wait to make it at home. Rice paper instead of pizza dough. Scrambled egg instead of tomato sauce. Seafood almost always the topping, although the one I had used pork belly instead.

VIETNAMESE “PIZZA”
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for each individual pizza:
2 rice paper round sheets
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh herbs of your choice (I used basil and oregano)
1 egg, scrambled (it is easier to scramble 2)
salt and pepper to taste
cooked shrimp, 4 to 5 per serving
Thai sweet red chili sauce (store-bought is fine)
roasted salted peanuts

Make a flavored olive oil sauteeing the chopped herbs with the oil until fragrant. Reserve. Cook the shrimp by any method you like. I just used a little butter, salt, pepper and a squirt of lemon juice. Reserve. Scramble the egg with salt and pepper, and if you have a plastic squirt bottle, pour the egg mixture inside. Reserve.

Heat a griddle pan on medium heat. Grab two sheets of rice paper and spray water all over the surface of one of them, add the other on top. Quickly add the double paper to the pan, and carefully using a couple of spatulas or wooden spoons, make the heat stick them together. Once they start to join and the bottom is getting opaque, flip the papers and start heating the other side, always working on the surface to make them glue well. Once the paper starts getting white, brush a bit of the flavored oil on the surface, then pour the scrambled egg, a small amount will do. Push it to the edge with the back of a spoon, but don’t let it fall off on the pan. Cook until the egg starts to set, then quickly add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is warmed through. Sprinkle a good amount of sweet chili sauce all over, then the crushed peanuts, and serve. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Best way to serve it is to cut in wedges with scissors!

ENJOY!

PDF coming soon, stay tuned

Comments: This was such a delicious meal, I think I still need to practice the preparation, particularly handling the double rice paper, but overall I am super happy with the outcome. It is quite unusual, I know we’ll be enjoying it often with different toppings. If you’ve never heard of BANH TRANG NUONG, give this concoction a try, chances are you will fall in love with it also.

You can see a video of the preparation here, but I should warn you things did not go as smoothly for yours truly. Maybe different brands of rice paper behave differently. At any rate, it is worth any trepidation to get to the finish line…

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SHRIMP STIR-FRY WITH SNOW PEAS AND CASHEWS

You simply cannot beat the speed and convenience of a stir-fried meal and I also love the fact that contrary to what the name suggests, very little oil is needed. I do a very quick brining step for the shrimp, 10 minutes is more than enough, but you can omit that if you don’t mind a slightly less tender texture.

SHRIMP STIR-FRY WITH SNOW PEAS AND CASHEWS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon grape seed oil
minced garlic (optional)
grated ginger
6 to 8 ounces snow peas
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1/3 cup cashews, lightly toasted
salt and pepper to taste

for the finishing sauce:
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch

Dissolve the salt and water in 2 cups of water in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and leave in the solution for 10 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients. Make the finishing sauce by whisking all components in a bowl. Reserve.

Drain the shrimp, rinse very briefly and pat dry.

Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the ginger and garlic (if using), when fragrant add the snow peas and bell pepper. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, add the shrimp, and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with the cashews and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Normally this dish would be served with plain white rice, but sometimes we cannot resist the appeal of the quick version of tahdig. So that ‘s how we enjoyed this delicious stir-fry. Also, maybe you’ve noticed a red pepper in the first photo? That was a Serrano from our garden, I added without knowing how hot it would be. If you feel brave, add some hot peppers to yours too. I often talk about how good a recipe can be a couple of days later as my lunch. No luck this time, zero leftovers!

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SMOKED SHRIMP TACOS WITH ROASTED JALAPENO SALSA

To make this simple recipe, you’ll need a smoker. If you don’t have one, use the same rub on the shrimp and grill it. I am not too wild about liquid smoke, and would rather omit that component than include it in the rub, but if you have a brand you are fond of and know how much to use, go for it. The Roasted Jalapeno Salsa was published last week on Mimi’s blog, and I made it on the same day I read it. I just knew we would love it. Beware, it is spicy!

SMOKED SHRIMP TACOS WITH ROASTED JALAPENO SALSA
(from The Bewitching Kitchen and Mimi’s blog)

for the dry rub:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp hot chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

Heat the smoker to 200F with mesquite, oak, or pecan wood.

In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dry rub. Pour the rub over the shrimp and make sure everything is well coated. Add the shrimp to the smoker and smoke for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with the salsa, and your favorite toppings.

ROASTED JALAPENO SALSA
(slightly modified from Chef Mimi)

6 large jalapeños
4 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 generous bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Start by preparing the jalapeños. Remove the stems, then slice them vertically around the core of seeds. Discard the seeds and stems. Roughly chop the jalapeño slices and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds, then place them in with the jalapeños. Toss the mixture with the oil and salt, then place it in a baking/roasting dish. Roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 30 minutes.Place the roasted jalapeno-tomato mixture with the cilantro and other ingredients in a food processor and pulse, until the desired texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here

Comments: I made the salsa around lunch time, kept it in the fridge and brought to room temperature as I prepared the shrimp. Everything was ready then in less than 30 minutes, perfect weeknight meal. The shrimp turned out juicy and tender, with a nice flavor from the dry rub. And the roasted jalapeno salsa went perfectly with it. But if you are not into spicy food, this is definitely not for you. My Dad, the pepper-addict, would be proud of me! The shrimp is actually quite mildly flavored, so consider just serving it with a store-bough mild salsa if you prefer.

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GINGER-DILL SALMON

I get disappointed when pictures do not do justice to a recipe. You will have to trust me, this salmon was like an explosion of flavors and textures, even if it looks a bit “messy” on the plate. It is actually supposed to be just like that. The husband found the recipe in The New York Times, in an article highlighting favorites of their food editors. I can see why.

OVEN-ROASTED GINGER-DILL SALMON
(slightly modified from The New York Times)

1 salmon fillet, skin-on 
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, scrubbed and finely grated  
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 blood orange (or additional regular orange)
2 oranges
6 small radishes, cut into thin wedges
1 avocado
Flaky sea salt, for finishing (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a sheet pan with non-stick aluminum foil.  Pat the salmon dry, then place on the tray skin-side down and season with salt and pepper.


In a medium bowl, stir together the dill, ginger and olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the dill-ginger mixture over the top of the salmon. (Reserve the remaining dill-ginger mixture.) Bake until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.  

As the salmon cooks, cut off the top and bottom of the two types of oranges and remove the segments. Squeeze the peels into the remaining dill-ginger mixture to get out any juice.  Transfer the fruit and any juice on the cutting board to the bowl. Add the radishes, season generously with salt, and stir gently to combine.


Break the salmon into large pieces, and divide across plates with the citrus salad. Peel and pit the avocado, then quarter lengthwise and add to plates. Season with salt. Spoon the juices from the bowl over top, and season with black pepper, another drizzle of olive oil, and flaky sea salt, if using.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The husband is the seafood cook in our home, but every once in a while I venture into his domain. This was quite spectacular, even if I say so myself. We loved the contrast of the hot salmon with the cold citric salad. Perfect for a warm Summer evening. I highly, highly recommend it.

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