Saturday, May 19, 2007

Simple Asian Supper

I have a confession to make: I am a sucker for marinades. I love the way the full-flavored ingredients translate into a tastier version of plain-old chicken (or shrimp or beef...) It's the easiest and simplest way to add tons of flavor and extra moisture and, at most, requires the use of a whisk or blender and a zip-top bag.

I've been on an Asian kick lately. Since wild American shrimp were on sale at the grocery store (I never buy any other kind), I decided to make a marinade that incorporates all of the Asian flavors I was craving.

I started with a little inspiration from a Bobby Flay marinade and then pared it down. Soy, lime zest and juice, ginger, garlic and shallots went into the blender with some peanut oil and voila! a perfect marinade was born. It tasted so good on its own I debated saving some to drizzle on the cooked shrimp, but then realized that would be taking my marinade-love a bit too far. The shrimp came out tender and full of flavor. I imagine the marinade would be delicious for a meaty fish like tuna or mahi, and might make for a tasty flank steak marinade, as well.

I thought a slaw-like salad would be a good accompaniment with the shrimp, so at the market, I picked up a head of Napa cabbage, a red bell pepper, a jalapeno and some cilantro. To dress, I made a simple, Thai-inspired peanut dressing. It was a light but satisfying dinner that came together pretty quickly.

Asian-style shrimp and slaw
Serves 2
For the shrimp:
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut oil
Zest and juice of one lime
1/2 pound of medium or large shrimp

Place everything except shrimp in a blender and puree. Pour marinade in a zip-top bag, place shrimp inside and put bag in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet over high heat. Remove shrimp from bag, shake off excess marinade, and sear, two minutes per side, or until shrimp are opaque.

For the slaw:
1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Zest and juice of one lime
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 1-inch piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 small head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Whisk together peanut butter, soy, lime zest and juice, vinegar, oil and ginger. If thick, add a tablespoon of water. Set aside. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds until light brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, peppers and cilantro, and add dressing until lightly coated. Garnish with sesame seeds.

To serve, mound a pile of slaw in a large bowl and top with shrimp.

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