April 26, 2011

Creamy Coconut Lime Shrimp

Recently I made ham and cheese biscuits--meaning I added diced cheddar cheese and thinly sliced ham to my regular biscuit recipe--and we loved them.  Loved them.  They were a perfect accompaniment to a simple vegetable soup.  A couple weeks later I made them again.  I got out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, assembled the recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits--except I substituted white whole wheat flour for almost half of the all-purpose flour.  Then I kneaded in a handful of diced, thinly sliced ham and a handful of diced cheese. I put them in the oven and waited for deliciousness. Except that they weren't delicious.  They were kind of, well, terrible. Dry, a little too salty. Did I confuse the measurements for baking powder and baking soda this time?  In my earlier version, had I not used whole wheat flour?  (If you are going to use whole wheat flour a recipe that is leavened with baking soda or baking powder, the type to use is called Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, but I really don't think it is worth messing up a perfectly good biscuit trying to make it whole grain.  Why do I so often forget this and habitually add whole grain flours to my biscuits?)  In my earlier version, had I made Buttermilk Biscuits?  Or used a recipe from Joy of Cooking instead?

Thinking about it now, I think that is what is was.  I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking!  I remember, because I had said something like, "Shall I put ham and cheese in the biscuits?" And Jason had looked at me incredulously, which I always interpret as a dare.  Whenever Jason doesn't like something I cook, he asks, "Is this a real recipe?"  The unspoken second half of the question is, "Or some stupid incarnation of leftovers you thought would be a good idea?"  Joy of Cooking is so thorough that right there in the cookbook there is a list of optional add-ins to biscuits, so there was my 'out.'  If he didn't like them, at least it was a 'real recipe.'  If it was a failure, I could blame it on the weird 1950s palates of the ladies who wrote Joy of Cooking.

Whew!  Glad we figured that out.  I know what I'm having for dinner tonight!


Anyhow, because I don't want similar recipe confusion to happen, I thought I'd better write down this 'keeper" that we enjoyed last night.

Creamy Coconut Lime Shrimp over Rice

Even Abby, our resident almost-two-year-old "vegetarian" ate this with gusto (and a side of peas).
I recently succumbed to the reality that I don't always have homemade chicken broth on hand, and when I do it's often a pain to defrost, so I bought a jar of Better Than Boullion.  It's convenient when a recipe calls for a small amount of broth. 
Makes 4 servings.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chipolte pepper in adobo (from a can-or use more if you want the dish spicy)
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 cup chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
Zest and juice of one lime (I peeled my lime with vegetable peeler so I could season the dish and pick out the peel later, but it's easier to just say "zest of one lime" when recipe writing.)
a big pinch of kosher salt and an even bigger pinch of sugar (maybe almost a tablespoon)
1-2 cups diced carrots*
1 pound medium (61-70 count) raw shrimp, peeled and deviened
 fish sauce and black pepper to taste
chopped cilantro
Hot cooked rice**

1.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chipolte, ginger and lemongrass.  Saute to bring out their flavors for about a minute, then add chicken broth and coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer, reduce to medium heat. Season with lime zest, half of the lime juice, salt and sugar.  Let simmer for a couple minutes.

2.  Add carrots and shrimp.  Cover pan and cook about two minutes until shrimp is pink.  Remove from heat.  Season with fish sauce, the rest of the lime juice, black pepper and salt to taste.  Ladle into bowls over individual servings of rice. Garnish with cilantro. 

*You could certainly add other vegetables.  In the summer, diced bell peppers would be a nice addition, while potatoes and greens would be nice in the winter.  The focus of the dish though, should be the shrimp and the sweet, creamy sauce.  Any vegetables should add earthiness and sweetness. 

** I had a batch of short grain white rice leftover from the night before.  To warm it and add some interest, I fried about 3 cups of rice in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil with a couple of sliced green onions, then seasoned it with soy sauce.

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