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.

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.

Red Snapper Cakes

Red Snapper Cakes are quite the departure from the “blackened” snapper that my mother made us when I was growing up. The bread crumbs give the outside a crunchy texture, and the cakes likewise have plenty of flavor. I use vegetable oil instead of butter. It also calls for just a little bit of cilantro. When I’m meal planning, occasionally I’ll plan a “Week of Cilantro,” in which at least three of that week’s recipes call for cilantro, in the hope of using an entire bunch before it goes bad. I’ve tried all the on-line hacks for keeping cilantro fresh, and it has never lasted longer than a week for me. I’ve had equally dismal results attempting to grow it myself, so, week of cilantro it is. I’ve never tried the sauce that is supposed to go on this. We like tartar sauce, so we use that.