Pad Thai with Shrimp

Pad Thai with Shrimp is an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network. I have re-written his recipe for a couple of reasons. First, his original recipe only makes two servings. I try to have all of my tried-and-true recipes sized appropriately for my family. We like leftovers for weekday lunches, so I quadrupled his recipe. Second, there is a lot going on in his original recipe, perhaps too much definitely more than we are able to manage for a week night dinner. And honestly, more than it needs. For this reason, I have left a few things out, like marinated tofu, salted cabbage and dried shrimp. The remaining ingredients can be purchased in any decent mom-and-pop Asian grocery store. The rice noodles I like to put in a bowl in hot tap water a couple of hours before I want to use them. My 12-year-old gets home at 4:30pm and this is an easy job for her to do.

Pad Thai with Shrimp
adapted from Alton Brown of Food Network

Ingredients:

12 – 16 oz thin rice stick noodles
1/2 C fish sauce
1 block palm sugar
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
4 oz tamarind paste
Canola oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped
8 tsp minced garlic (1/8 C + 2 tsp)
3 whole eggs, beaten slightly
12 oz shrimp, shells removed and deveined
Bean sprouts
Roasted salted peanuts, chopped

Directions

One to two hours ahead of time, place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let sit until ready to start cooking. Drain.

Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, rice wine vinegar and tamarind paste in a small bowl and set aside.

Place wok over high heat. Once hot, add enough oil to coat. Heat until the oil shimmers. Add about 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, and cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, shrimp, a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts, and a handful of peanuts. Toss until shrimp are pink and everything is heated through.

Garnish with remaining scallions, and more bean sprouts and peanuts.

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Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce is a recipe that comes from a cookbook that I no longer have. I love this recipe, and yet, I didn’t want to make any of the other recipes in the book. When this happens, I make a copy of the recipe(s) that I want to keep, and give away the cookbook to make more room on my bookshelf. My copy of the book called for 2 pounds of shrimp, 1/3 cup of bamboo shoots, and the cornflour was listed as cornstarch, but everything else is the same. If I don’t have any fresh basil already growing in my garden, then I just leave it out; this recipe doesn’t really need it. We do love, however, to add asparagus: one bunch cut into 2 inch pieces and stir fried w/ the rest of the veggies is a fabulous addition.

Seared Chipotle Shrimp

Seared Chipotle Shrimp is actually a part of a larger recipe, called Chilled Avocado Soup with Seared Chipotle Shrimp. The soup really didn’t appeal to us, so we’ve never tried it, but the shrimp sounded really good. It is just on the edge of being too spicy for the kids, but they do like this shrimp. The shrimp gets sauteed with fresh corn cut off the cob, which the kids are less crazy about. Leftover sauteed corn goes nicely in a breakfast burrito with eggs for breakfast the next day. Since we don’t do the soup that the shrimp is supposed to go on top of, we like to eat it with a nice salad; something with a sweet note pairs nicely with the spice of the shrimp, such as Massaged Kale Salad.

Braised Tilapia in Caramel Sauce

Braised Tilapia in Caramel Sauce is delicious when it’s done right. The secret is to make sure that you reduce the sauce down until it’s thick, sweet and syrupy. It can make the difference between a dinner that is merely passable and one that is absolutely delicious. Serve with rice and some sliced cucumber for a fresh crunch.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream are now called Snapper Tacos with Chipotle Cream, but whatever you call them, they are delicious. I use tilapia for these anyway, so the original title makes more sense. I reduce the onion and tomato down to just one cup of each, but otherwise I do the recipe as written.

These tacos are served on flour tortillas. All of my recipes that use flour tortillas benefit from the wonderful tortillas I found a number of years ago. Tortilla Land Tortillas are thinner and less doughy than most grocery-store tortillas. You do have to cook them in a skillet for a couple of minutes on each side before using them, but they are totally worth the effort. In my area, they are available in huge packages at Costco. I take them home, divide them into freezer bags into single meal portions appropriate for my family, and then freeze them until they are needed. They don’t take long to defrost on the counter.

This recipe also requires a single chili from a can of chipotle chilis in adobo. Once you open a can of chipotle chilis, you have to remove whatever you don’t use from the can. You could keep them in a glass jar in the refrigerator, but I like to puree the whole can and freeze the resulting puree in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, I pop them out into freezer bags, label them, and then they are handy for any recipe that calls for chipotle chilis in adobo.

Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee works well with crawfish and/or shrimp and we serve it with either steamed rice or cornbread. We can buy frozen cleaned crawfish at a local Japanese grocery store. Asian groceries generally tend to have a wide variety of seafood in their freezer cases. I heartily recommend doing some exploring if you’re feeling daring. We even made this dish as an accompaniment to fried frog legs once. You can totally just use shrimp. The first ingredient of this recipe is butter, but you can easily substitute oil if you prefer not to use butter. The butter that the dish is finished with is unnecessary and can be left out entirely. I’m not sure we’ve ever used it. If you have fresh garden tomatoes, great, otherwise I would just use canned diced tomatoes. In my opinion, they are better than grocery-store tomatoes, anymore. You can also use a fresh jalapeno or habanero instead of the hot sauce.

For years, we made this recipe using a high-quality instant bouillon for the shrimp stock. It’s delicious just with that. A couple of years ago, however, we started freezing our shrimp shells every time we had shrimp and learned that they make excellent stock. Once you have a few meals’ worth of shrimp shells in the freezer, throw them into a pot and put enough water over them to just cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two; it should taste of shrimp when you’re done. If you don’t need all of the stock immediately, the leftovers can be re-frozen to use in another dish later on.

At the end of the day, remember that whatever protein you use might have a different cooking time. We tend to use either small shrimp, or cleaned frozen crawfish that may be already cooked, so we always add the protein last and don’t let it cook more than a couple of minutes.

Serve over rice or with Sweet Cornbread.

Mussels with Roasted Potatoes

Mussels with Roasted Potatoes is a dish that lives close to my heart. I was an adult before I ever tried a fresh mussel or clam, and it was truly love at first bite. This recipe is the first one we tried on our own at home. To be honest, nowadays my husband likes to wing-it when he makes mussels. When we do mussels, we almost always add fresh clams and shrimp regardless of the recipe, to keep everyone in the family happy. They all have similar cooking times and can be removed from the hot broth as they finish. That said, if I needed to make shellfish just for myself and my girls, this recipe is the one I would choose. Even though it includes potatoes, you still want to serve it with bread, perhaps a nice loaf of Easy Homemade Ciabatta Bread, for dipping into the broth.