Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still an animal, but not quite as bovine, porcine, or avian

Come to think of it, isn’t that the flu we’re missing: The Bovine Flu? Wouldn’t that round it out nicely?
Anyways, I had mentioned that we were trying to eat less meat and be healthier, in response to that, a very dear friend of mine gave me a vegan cookbook The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen. I’ve already mined the book for tofu/ricotta/artichoke ravioli and am really looking forward to trying something with cashew cream, it has given me many happy ideas.
However this entry is not meatless, nor is it even kosher. It involves the lowly shrimp.
Kyle and I like to call it Shrimp Konkani, but we have no idea if it is in any way authentic to the Konkani culture of western India. It is essentially spicy cardamom shrimp with onions in coconut milk. We served it on jasmine rice with a green papaya salad. The way I learned to make the papaya salad was VERY spicy (I have since seen it otherwise, but to me it will always be a scorching salad) but because the shrimp is so spicy, I have done it here without any peppers. Feel free to add if you are a die hard chile-head.

Green papayas are relatively easy to find in Asian markets, they are white fleshed with white and black seeds. This is in contrast to the traditional sweeter, softer papaya with pink-orange flesh and all black seeds. Those should not be used here. If you can’t find a green papaya, you might be able to substitute a cucumber.

Green Papaya Salad
1/2 a green papaya (seeded, peeled, shredded)
4 cloves of garlic
juice of 3 limes
1 tbsp fish sauce -- can be substituted with soy sauce for vegetarians, but the colour will change.

Shrimp Konkani
750g shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
2 small - medium yellow onions; ground to a paste
2 small - medium yellow onions; sliced thinly
2 tbsp chilli paste (Sambal Olek)
3 Bay Leaves
1 can coconut milk
3 -7 green cardamom pods (depending on how much you like the flavour)
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

This, my friends is a green papaya. I find using a grapefruit spoon to get the seeds out works really well, but a regular spoon or a melon baller will work just as well. Just do it inside of a plastic bag because those little seeds fly everywhere, and if you have a playful animal they will delight in batting them around, and the next thing you know, you'll find one in your bed or shoe.

After peeling and cutting the papaya into chunks, I put it in the food processor with the grating blade, but you can also do it on a regular grater. If you are substituting with cucumber, I think grating with a box grater is best, the food processor might turn it to mush. After that, 4 finely chopped pieces of garlic are added.

The juice of 3 limes. (duh) Obvious picture I know, but they were so green, that I had to include it.

And the fish sauce -- I try not to think about what this stuff actually is. It seems like it should make you sick, but it doesn't and it's invaluable stuff. So you mix everything together and put it in the fridge for about an hour for the flavours to blend and also it's really good when it's nice and cold!!

On to the shreemp. First, as you can see, I started with an onion the size of my head. I split it in half and sliced one half thinly, and the other I put in the food processor and grated it. You can grate it on a regular box grater too, but make sure you have goggles and/or waterproof mascara.

Then I heat some oil in my giant wok and threw the spices in, they should fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Until they turn a little brown.

Then the sliced onions. Fry until browned. After that, the grated onions are tossed in along with the chili paste.

Then the coconut milk, at this point, there's a very strong possibility that your 'masala' could be violently orange/salmon colour. This all depends on how much Sambal Olek you use. Simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened.

And then you add the shreemps. I just realized that this is kind of a gross picture.
Anyways, sautee them until just pink. Salt and pepper to taste and...

(and eat)
(with rice)

So that was the first step in my transition towards a less red meat focused blog. To be fair, the shrimp isn’t that healthy with all that coconut milk, but it’s a step in the right direction. Besides, these recipes aren’t really meant to be your regular Tuesday night meals, for us they are our weekend treats.
There’s just one other thing that I’d like to mention here. A few of you may have heard of Doc Hendley, he was featured recently on CNN’s Heroes awards. He was one of the top 10 heroes of the year. Although he didn’t come in as number one, he did get the attention of this person (me). Doc runs an organization called Wine to Water, you can read all about it on their site. He started out as a bartender and today helps to bring clean water to all parts of the world. Recently I wrote to them to see how I could host a Wine to Water event. A very helpful and friendly Emily Whitworth wrote me back with a bunch of great information. So although it is in its embryonic stages, I will be hosting one of these events in the coming months. It is a wine tasting event where all proceeds go to Wine to Water, the best part about it is that even $100 raised buys one Bio Sand Filter that can bring clean water to a Ugandan family. At this point, my search starts with a location to host this event. Until I have that, it is still just an idea. Any suggestions? My house is just too dang small and the cats might get scared, or drunk (dirty bastards).

I’m really excited about the W2W event so if it piques anyone else’s interest or if anyone who has recently put something like this together (ahem… cupcake camp montreal) has any tips or ideas, please contact me, or post here, this is the first time I do anything like this…
Thanks for flying Air CheeseandOlive xoxoxo