Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pineapple Curry Fried Rice

The tang of curry is wafting through the house.  I just ate the most wonderful fried rice sprinkled with the crunch of cashews, the bite of curry, the sweet juiciness of pineapple, and a touch of that most heavenly of herbs, fresh cilantro.  The recipe came from the book Gourmet's America, a beautifully photographed volume that I love to page through but, for some reason, have rarely cooked from.  Tonight was the night.  Based on the results, I'll do more than just drool over these photos in the future.

1/4 c. canola oil
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 1/2 T. curry powder
1 c. chopped fresh pineapple (I used frozen chunks)
1/2 c. coarsely chopped roasted cashews
1/4 c. minced fresh cilantro
6 c. white rice, cooked (I used my rice cooker)
3 T. water
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper (I just added a sprinkle of pepper)

If you don't have cooked rice lying around, get your rice going.  Pull out a very large skillet (at least 12 inches across, says the recipe, and I agree.  I cut the recipe down a bit and it still filled my large skillet).  Heat the oil on medium high until it's hot but not smoking.  (It'll start making little popping noises when it's hot.  You can also get your hand wet and fling water droplets into the pan and see if you get some snapping action; if you do, the oil is hot.)  Put onion in the oil and stir, cooking until golden.  Add curry powder and stir, just for about 5 seconds.  Add the pineapple, cashews, cilantro, and cooked rice.  Stir until well combined.  Add the water, the salt, and the pepper and cook for about a minute.

That's it.  Enjoy your rice, and the lovely after-smell.

Anyone else like fried rice?  What is your favorite thing to put in it?


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Cook Shrimp

My post-holiday bathroom scale has been hinting that perhaps a few more salads are in order.  So, inspired by this post for shrimp caesar salad at A Blog About Food, I headed to the local Chinese market for the freshest, juiciest shrimp around.

The market sells them with their heads still on (see those little shrimp eyes?).  And while whole shrimp take a bit more time to prepare, I think the extra flavor and juiciness is worth it.

It occurred to me that in this era when so much of our grocery store food is pre-cooked and pre-cleaned, somebody out there might not know what to do with whole shrimp.  So I share with you a method for cooking them that I just discovered a few years ago.  It's easy, adds no extra fat, and near as I can tell, is foolproof.  You don't need anything but a large-ish pot and some water.  The shrimp end up moist and never overcooked.  And if you buy them from my Chinese market, they'll be sweet and mmmm mmmm good.

1.  Put one to two inches water in large lidded pot.  Bring water to boil over high heat.
2.  Add shrimp that are IN the shell.  Cover, remove from heat, and let stand until shrimp are cooked through in center, about 8 minutes.
3.  Pour shrimp into colander to drain.  Let cool for a couple minutes.
4.  Pop off the shrimp heads (there might be some orange goo-squirting going on, so wearing an apron is not a bad idea).  Then snap off the tails and pull off the shrimp's outer shells.  (Gardeners may want to set aside the shells to dig into soil later; they add calcium to the soil, apparently, which helps prevent tomato bottom rot, I am told.)

And there you have it.  Shrimp deliciousness, ready for your next salad.

Not cookies.  Salad.  We are eating salad here.