Lately, you could say my presence in the blogosphere has been a little MIA. I've gone AWOL. Rogue. But not by my own doing, I assure you. See, I was seduced. The cloudless days. The shimmering pool. The garage sale-lined streets. It’s all been a little too much to resist, and in the end, summer inevitably won me over.
Like a lovesick teenager, I’ve spent every free second of precious weekend time scavenging for five-cent deals, sipping frosty drinks and glued to an inflatable pool raft at a closeness even the ruler of a prom chaperone couldn’t separate.
I tried to resist, really. I sat down to upload photos. I attempted countless times to write something…anything... about the food I've been making. But that sneaky sun slithered its way through my curtains and blinded me with the promise of sultry tan lines and natural highlights.
So I gave in. I strapped on my suit, slathered on the SPF and decompressed.
But I’m still here.
Thankfully, in all my summer lovin', I still managed to slide on an apron over my swimsuit and spend a little time in the kitchen. It’s just the sharing with you all that’s been a bit delayed. So I now have a mile-long list of grilled, chilled, stacked and speared summer recipes that I’m dying to tell you about. Grilled jalapeño poppers…blueberry almond lemon coffee cake…Jamaican jerk beef kabobs... Oooh yeah. We’ve been eating quite well.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
This dish definitely screams summer. A specific summer, actually, where I fell in love with more than just the sun.
Summer, 2006. Clearwater Beach. The sun was blazing, the air was salty, and the seagulls were the only things I could hear over my pounding heart. I was drunk on love, you see, with the man who would one day become my husband.
After spending the day lounging in the sand, we headed to a beach side seafood shack just in time to watch the sun dip below the horizon. Toasted from the sun, we somehow managed to stop gushing over each other long enough to peruse the menu, and that’s when we realized that there was only one thing that could make the day more perfect. A heaping platter of deep fried, crunchy coconut shrimp.
And perfection was definitely reached. Nothing beats a sweet-spicy sauce mellowed by shrimp coated in a crisp, sweet, coconut-panko crust. Making the meal at home is a bit more involved than pointing to a word on a menu, but well worth the major decrease in moolah and calories.
First, shell and devein your shrimp. You just need a knife, a little patience and a husband. That's right. Put him to work. The job involves raw meat, sharp objects and an intestinal track. He'll love it. Check out this simple tutorial.
While Luke did surgery on the shrimp, I made the aromatic sauce, a delicious mix of ginger, onion, garlic, lime, mango nectar and scotch bonnet or habanero peppers. (Don't rub your eyes...they're hot!) I chopped, sautéed, simmered and blended my way to a sauce so good it'd make a grasshopper taste delicious.
While the sauce chilled in the fridge, I prepared the coconut rice and breaded and fried the shrimp. Have you ever used Japanese panko breadcrumbs? Oh. my. crunchies. Brilliance, actually. The light crunchiness of panko has made it my go-to choice for breading shrimp and chicken.
(The most perfect chicken fingers: dredge chicken into flour, then beaten egg, then panko...then back in egg and back in panko... fry in a little oil....then enjoy. And thank me later.)
So Luke and I took a seat on our patio as the sun began to set, still crazy in love, and once again enjoyed a heaping plate of fried coconut shrimp. And it was delicious. Definitely as good as the restaurant's version we had years before. Sweet, crunchy, saucy, spicy. Perfection.
In fact, the only thing different was the manner in which Luke ate the meal. I guess marriage tends to make you loosen up your manners a bit because he literally licked that sauce bowl clean. But since I was the one slaving over the dish this time, I'll take it as a compliment.
Coconut Shrimp with Fiery Mango Sauce
Ann Taylor Pittman, Cooking Light, January 2010
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 7 shrimp and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)
1 teaspoon canola oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (12-ounce) can mango nectar
1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper, unseeded (Habanero makes a perfect substitute.)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
28 jumbo shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons canola oil, divided
To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add nectar and pepper; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until reduced to 3/4 cup. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Place mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Stir in juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cool.
Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact; discard shells.
Place coconut in a food processor; pulse 6 times or until finely chopped. Add panko; pulse to combine. Place coconut mixture in a shallow dish. Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Sprinkle shrimp evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Working with 1 shrimp at a time, dredge shrimp in cornstarch, shaking off excess. Dip in egg whites; dredge in coconut mixture.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 7 shrimp to pan; coat tops of shrimp with cooking spray. Cook shrimp 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure 3 times with remaining oil and shrimp.
Nutritional Information: Calories: 367, Fat: 13.5g (sat 2.4g,mono 6.5g,poly 3.7g), Protein: 31g, Carbohydrate: 29.5g, Fiber: 1g, Cholesterol: 252mg, Iron: 5.6mg, Sodium: 731mg, Calcium: 76mg.
Cooking Light, April 2008
Yield: 4 Servings
Cooking Light, April 2008
Yield: 4 Servings
1 cup water
3/4 cup basmati rice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Combine 1 cup water, rice, coconut milk, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro.
*This recipe was part of another recipe by Cooking Light, so I do not have specific nutritional info for the rice. But there's no bacon in it, so must not be too bad.