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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GRILLED SHRIMP WITH PARSLEY OIL OVER BLACK RICE NOODLES

This goes to the OMG FILES. Everything worked great together, and the husband went crazy for it too. He kept saying this is restaurant-quality meal. Top-notch restaurant. I must say that for something so simple to put together, it is amazing how tasty it was. The parsley oil stole the show. Think pesto, but lighter. You can use regular pasta, but there’s something about the texture of a rice noodle that worked even better with the shrimp.

GRILLED SHRIMP WITH PARSLEY OIL OVER BLACK RICE NOODLES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shrimp:
1 cup tightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 pounds Jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 to 1 tsp Tajin Mexican seasoning
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Make the parsley oil: coarsely chop the parsley and place in a food processor. Add the lime juice, olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Process to a paste. Reserve.

Make the shrimp: whisk the grapeseed oil with Tajin seasoning. Add the shrimp and toss to coat well. Season lightly with salt. Grill the shrimp until cooked through, around 3 minutes per side, depending on how hot is your grill.

Serve the shrimp with the parsley sauce spooned all over it.

for the noodles:
(adapted from Joanne’s blog)
12 oz cherry tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
black rice noodles (I used this brand)

Heat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes with the olive oil, cumin, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and a grind of black pepper. Toss to combine, then transfer to a baking dish. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until it starts to get brown at spots.

Cook black rice noodles according to the instructions in the package. Toss with the roasted tomatoes, making sure to incorporate all the juices that accumulate in the baking dish. Serve alongside the shrimp.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am not too fond of grilling shrimp. If using a skewer, it is best to use two so that they don’t move around, but assembling that leaves me exhausted just thinking about it. So this time I went with a grilling basket, which is something usually maneuvered by the husband. He always does sea bass or red snapper using that gadget. I am quite impressed. Both by the husband and the gadget.

I sprayed the grid with a little olive oil, added the marinated shrimp, closed it, and placed on the grill. The shrimp cooked like a dream, perfectly juicy. Flipping them over midway into the grilling time was a breeze. Grab the basket by the handle, flip, and you are done. Granted, washing the basket is a bit of a hassle, but overall a small price to pay.

I hope you try this meal, either the whole thing or at least the shrimp component with that amazing parsley oil. We are still talking about it…

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FENNEL-RUBBED SHRIMP IN LIGHT COCONUT SAUCE

Nothing comes together faster than a meal involving shrimp. Or sea scallops, for that matter. But in this neck of the woods it is a rare, very rare event to find dry scallops, whereas good quality shrimp is always available. For this preparation, instead of using a full can of coconut milk (so common in recipes everywhere), I opted for full-fat yogurt with a touch of light coconut milk. Worked wonderfully well. Tasty but considerably lighter.

FENNEL-RUBBED SHRIMP IN LIGHT COCONUT SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 + 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground Kashmiri chiles
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/3 cup cashews, toasted
1/2 cup full-fat yogurt
1/4 cup light coconut milk
drizzle of honey
dried mint, to taste (optional)

Combine the ground spices and salt in a bowl, add the shrimp and mix to cover it with spices. Refrigerate for 30 min to 1 hour, if possible, but you can start cooking right away. Mix the yogurt with coconut milk and honey, reserve.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp, cook, stirring them for a couple of minutes. Add the yogurt-coconut mixture, and cook in low-heat until shrimp is fully cooked and the sauce reduces a bit. Add the cashew nuts, dried mint (if using), and serve..

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am calling this dish “Fennel” shrimp because it was the flavor that came through more obviously, at least for me. If you like more heat, add more pepper, or add a touch of cayenne. I love the flavor of Kashmiri pepper, so that’s what I used. If you are like me, and twist the nose at dried mint, I suggest you give it a try. I lost my dried mint snobbism after reading about it in Middle Eastern cookbooks. It has a permanent spot in my pantry now.

Shrimp in light coconut sauce over white rice. So simple, and so satisfying! My kind of dinner!

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