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Category Archives: Shrimp

The Feast of Saint Nicholas: Cilantro Pesto

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Blessed Feast!

I was raised with the true story of St. Nicholas.  I always knew the truth of the Santa legends and promptly hugged Grandma after receiving gifts marked “from Santa.”  When we became Orthodox, celebrating St. Nicholas Day seemed only natural.  We decorated the mantle on Wednesday and put up our stockings last night.  The kids can’t wait to put up the tree, but they will have to wait a bit longer for that.

We were iced in and chose not to brave the slippery twenty mile drive to liturgy this morning.  Instead John made pumpkin pancakes, and I put out our St. Nicholas treats.

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Nuts and chocolate coins are traditional St. Nicholas treats.  I made vegan carob coins in my mini muffin tin using this recipe plus a pinch of salt.  Last year I made them too thin; this year they are too thick.  Maybe next year I’ll get them just right.  The little clogs were stitched in felt from this pattern.  I can’t bring myself to put food in the same shoes that their feet have been inside, so I made those little clogs instead.

After breakfast we pulled out this book–a relic of my childhood collection.  We snuggled up with blankets and read from our basket of Christmas books.  We watched holiday movies, played outside in the icy wonderland, played board games, filled the bird feeders, and strung popcorn for the birds.   The bird feeding idea popped up twice this week in my internet subscriptions; both here and here.

Our poor confused tree, stuck between seasons.

Our poor confused tree, stuck between seasons.

Snuggle Bunny

Snuggle Bunny

Little Man

Little Man

Ice on the rose bush.

Ice on the rose bush.

Since it’s a feast day, fish is allowed.  That means shrimp for us!  John and the kids picked a lot of cilantro for our CSA farmer earlier this week, so I found this recipe that I modified for our purposes.  Normally I would have used brown rice, but my aunt gave me gallon of white jasmine at Thanksgiving.  What a better day for a white rice treat than a feast day?  I served this with a little salad and a variety of roasted baby winter squash from our CSA.  We like to think of them as squash fries that you don’t have to peel first.  You just eat them right out of their skins after they are cooked.

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Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto

1 heaping cup cilantro leaves, washed
6-8 green onions, roughly chopped
2-3 Tbsp pecans (didn’t measure)
1 clove garlic
1-2 tsp agave syrup (I am out of white sugar and it worked just as well)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar (any vinegar would work)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, to taste

3 cups dry jasmine rice, cooked according to package instructions
1 lb raw shrimp

Start your rice.

In a blender or food processor place the first eight ingredients.  Blend until mostly smooth.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  In a bowl toss the shrimp with a heaping tablespoon of the pesto and saute for 3-4 minutes in the skillet, until they are pink and opaque throughout.

Serve over rice with the extra pesto.

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My Kind of California Rolls

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I break a lot of rules in this recipe.  I don’t make my California Rolls inside out.  I don’t use sesame seeds.  I saute the carrots with garlic, ginger, and sesame oil instead of using them raw.  I don’t cool the rice before rolling the California Rolls.  I use shrimp instead of imitation crab for allergy reasons.  I use short grain brown rice instead of white sushi rice.  We eat them like a burrito instead of sliced in to cute little circles.  Nevertheless, we like them this way.  I guess that’s all that matters.

I learned to make California Rolls from Alton Brown.  He really is my favorite TV Chef.  He’s the perfect mix of Science Guy meets foodie for my inner geek.  If you’ve never watched, give an episode a try.  Here is Alton Brown’s recipe for California Rolls and the corresponding video (here is the entire episode) for those who want to see a recipe that uses mainline instructions.

Pickled radish is hard to come by.  Much of the time the ones you find have corn syrup and food dyes in the ingredient list.  Either one of those would strike it from our preferred ingredient list, so most of the time I just use cucumber.  I’m having an inclination to pickle my own daikon radish to try sometime.  Should I?

Sushi rolls are traditionally served with a variety of condiments.  Pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and soy sauce are the three most common condiments.

For our family, soy sauce is out, and we may not have an alternative when this meal is prepared, so it is normally omitted.

Pickled ginger isn’t popular here either, so I just add powdered ginger to the carrots.

Wasabi paste is an acquired taste too.  You likely won’t find pure wasabi in the United States.  Wasabi is expensive and it isn’t easy to grow.  Most of the ones you find commercially do not even have wasabi in them.  They just contain horseradish, mustard, and green food dye, so no dyes for us.   Then I found a wasabi powder that has horseradish, mustard, and wasabi.  Yes, wasabi is last, but it has no dyes, so I got some.   I used this simple recipe for wasabi paste.  Then I let everyone try it for the first time today.  I only gave the kids a tiny dot each, but the results were pretty comical.  Buster wouldn’t wait for instructions before licking it straight off the plate, and he refuses to try it again.  Snuggle Bunny followed his lead, but was willing to try it again with a generous bite of sushi.  Little Man forgot about his until the end when he was polishing off his plate; that was an unwelcome surprise!  John and I thought it was a nice change, but I don’t know if I’ll order more in the future.  One little jar is going to be enough for six meals easily, so it should last a while.

What is your favorite sushi condiment?


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You will need a bamboo sushi mat to successfully roll your own California rolls.  They aren’t expensive and can be purchased at Asian grocery stores.

My Kind of California Rolls

3 c. brown sushi rice, cooked
5 Tbsp rice vinegar (to taste)
4 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
2 tsp salt (to taste)

1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 avocado, sliced
2-3 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 cucumber or pickled radish sliced into long strips
1/2 – 2/3 cup cooked shrimp, defrosted and chopped (it’s easier to roll that way)

1 package roasted nori sheets

While sushi rice is cooking, mix vinegar, salt, and sugar in a measuring cup.

Wash and prepare vegetables and shrimp while waiting for the rice.

Sauté sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and grated carrot in a small skillet until tender (about 3-5 minutes).

In a large bowl, mix carrots and vinegar solution into the rice.

Place 1 sheet of nori rough side down on your bamboo rolling mat.

Coat a thin layer of rice over the entire surface of nori.

Pile avocado, cucumber, and shrimp in a line about 3/4 of the way down the sheet.

Roll sushi from the edge closest to the shrimp filling. Do not roll mat into sushi. Readjust the mat as needed to roll the sushi tightly. The completed product should not unroll.

Shrimp with Mango and Rice Noodles

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I like watching cooking shows.  Actually, now in the age of internet, I really prefer to skip the talk and watch the clips.  How about you?  Who is your favorite chef?

Tonight’s dinner is compliments of “The Chew.”  “Ming Tsai’s Spicy Shrimp with Mango” is one of our favorite meals, but we make it without the “Spicy.”  Sweet and spicy; mango and hot sauce sounds great!  Alas, I had to leave the hot sauce and black pepper out.  This time I have sugar snap peas instead of snow peas, but it is a minor change.  One way or the other, this meal has yet to last longer than eight minutes at the table.  It gets really quiet in the dining room for those few minutes.  Quiet is the litmus test for a truly great meal.

Here are links to the recipe and to the video clip.

Shrimp with Mango

Tips:
– Take your kitchen shears and snip through the softened noodles several times in different directions.  You’ll thank me later when your two year old doesn’t remove the whole tangle of long noodles in one scoop.
– Make sure you cut and prepare all of the ingredients before you start.  This recipe cooks so quickly that you won’t have time to catch up before it over-cooks.
– This is my favorite way to cut a mango.
– Every once in a while let your kids eat blindfolded (maybe even with chopsticks) just because they read about it in a science book.
– I bet if you can’t have shrimp you could try this with some chicken.  If you try it let me know how it turned out.

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