Monthly Archives: July 2009
It seems this birthday has been all about food. Aside from the two-day feast my dear friends in Raleigh shared with me, I got a nifty new salt and pepper mill, a set of beautiful Calphalon knives and Bay Books Ultimate Kitchen Companion. I am a big fan of gifts that keep on giving, and this book certainly does just that. With over 2000 recipes, I can cook something different every day for almost five and a half years. This book has it all; nearing 1000 pages, it covers everything from simple appetizers and soups to elaborate dishes plucked straight out of some obscure cookbook from the other side of the world. I have been twenty-four years old now for six days and twenty hours and the only times I have not had this book near me was while I was at work, even then it was not far from my mind.
Last night I was itching to break the seal and actually
cook something from this magnificent tome of culinary artistry. My family had already asked for something with shrimp, so while flipping through the voluminous Seafood section of the book, I settled on “Crystal Prawns,” an uniquely Asian preparation of shrimp highlighting the complex flavors of Rice Vinegar (half the amount of which was substituted for rice wine) Garlic and Soy Sauce, atop the savory nature of shrimp. The sharp, almost sour notes of the shrimp marinade needed a contrast on the plate so I also made up an Apricot Teriyaki glaze for green beans with almonds. The glaze is my own recipe, so it will not be as exact as the marinade for the shrimp; in fact, it started as an experiment, so feel free to play with the quantities. With Basmati Rice as the starch, the meal was complete and was a resounding success. I had to make a few substitutions for the ingredients called for in the recipe based on what I had available in my fridge, however I will list the recipe as printed, and note any substitutions later, and the logic behind them. Ingredients that I substituted will be marked with a ±. Overall, it took about an hour and a half to prepare, not including the time to marinate the shrimp.
The recipe serves four as printed. Even though I was only serving four I still doubled it because we really like shrimp in this house.
12 large prawns±
2 tbsp. Rice Wine±
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
½ tsp. Sugar
2 Clove Garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. fine chop spring onion±
2 tsp. fine chop fresh ginger±
1 spring onion thin slice on the diagonal
¼ tsp. Sesame oil
- Peel and devein the prawns leaving the tails intact (I removed the tails). Put the rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onion, ginger and a bit of salt in a large heatproof dish that will fit into a large steamer. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the prawns, tossing to cover and refrigerate for at least one hour±.
- Set the dish in a steamer over a wok of simmering water and cover. Steam for 8-10 minutes, or until done and tender. Serve hot with spring onion scattered over the prawns as garnish and drizzled with the marinade and sesame oil.
Substitutions, additions, and modifications:
- I only had a frozen bag of cooked shrimp available and they were by no means large, hence the doubling of the recipe. Since the shrimp were pre-cooked, after they were marinated and everything else was prepared I sautéed them in the marinade for about five or ten minutes, before plating them.
- I used half the amount of rice vinegar as rice wine. I do not cook with alcohol (at least not in the food anyway) at the behest of my mother.
- For the spring onion, I substituted red onion and fresh flat leaf parsley. This made sure to get the tang of the onion and the color of the greens because I had no scallions on hand.
- I also had no fresh ginger. The suggested substitution for fresh ginger to dry crushed ginger is 1 tsp fresh to ¼ tsp ground. I used considerably more than ½ tsp ground ginger, as I like ginger a lot and really wanted the taste to come through. Although fresh would have undoubtedly yielded a more intense ginger flavor, this certainly got the job done.
- To give the marinade more of a kick, I put in a pinch of crushed red pepper and some sesame seeds.
Rice is always prepared with a two to one ratio of water to rice. Just be sure to keep it tightly covered over medium-low heat. Do not remove the lid to stir. When the water has boiled away, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Apricot Teriyaki Green Beans with Almonds:
3 tbsp. of Apricot Preserve
4 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp. honey
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. lemon Juice
1 Can Green Beans
¼-Cup raw almonds
- In a small dish, combine the teriyaki and apricot preserves with a fork to get it evenly mixed.
- Heat the mixture over very low heat in a saucepan until the preserves have liquefied. Add the honey and stir vigorously.
- Season with salt and pepper your to taste.
- Coarse chop the almonds into bits.
- Heat the green beans in a small saucepan over medium heat with about ¼ the liquid from the can.
- When sufficiently heated pour the Apricot and Teriyaki blend over the beans, add the almonds, cover and reduce the heat.
- Simmer for about fifteen minutes as you prepare the rest of the meal.
I plated the shrimp over the rice, garnishing with the flat leaf parsley and sesame oil. For visual texture, (and to fill up the empty space on the plate) I made a few rice balls and drizzled them with the marinade and more parsley. Thin sliced onion fills in the rest of the empty space, making for a beautiful plate. Use ample amounts of the marinade over the shrimp and rice so the flavors really shine. Be sure to drain the green beans well with a slotted spoon before plating, as I am not sure how the sweetness of the apricot glaze will play with the savory sourness of the shrimp.