I love Sunday evenings. It’s the one night of the week that I know my boyfriend will be home for dinner and that we can cook together. And…it probably doesn’t hurt that, since I am job searching, I know I won’t experience the Monday doldrums the next morning. Although to be honest, I would kill right now to have that feeling! He, however, works about 16 hours a day. So a good, home cooked meal is a great way for him to start the week. Last night we decided on an Asian-inspired theme and we made Coconut Shrimp and Asparagus & Chicken Stir-fry.
We used Alton Brown’s recipe for coconut shrimp and it was actually really easy to make and it tasted great. We only cooked 12 shrimp and we used 3 eggs in the dredging process. We also bought the peanut sauce. Maybe next time I will try my hand at that as well. My one big tip is to prepare all the shrimp before you begin frying them in the oil. We burned the first few because the oil became too hot and, if we had put all the shrimp in at once, the oil would have cooled to a temperature that would have allowed the coconut to cook evenly. Also, make sure you press the coconut onto the shrimp. It just holds better when you drop it into the oil!
As for the chicken & asparagus stir-fry, I used a recipe from 101 Cookbooks. It is quite possibly my most favorite cooking website. The original recipe calls for tofu (the site is 100% vegetarian), but we added chicken with delicious results. The secret ingredient in this stir-fry? Lime. It adds such a dynamic flavor profile. I have never thought to include lime juice and zest in an Asian recipe and yet…it pairs so naturally. It also calls for mint and basil and I used both last night, but the first time I cooked it, I just used mint and it was still really good.
We used purple asparagus for no other reason than the green asparagus was not available.
See you in the City, friends!
Coconut Shrimp (Courtesy of Alton Brown and the Food Network)
- 24 large (15 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled, deviened, and butterflied
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 egg whites
- 2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, or 2 1/2 cups shredded fresh coconut
- Canola or peanut oil, for frying
- Peanut Sauce, recipe follows
Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl combine cornstarch, salt, pepper, and cayenne. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. In another bowl, place the coconut. Coat the shrimp with the cornstarch and shake off any excess. Dip into the egg white and then press into the coconut to get full coverage. Try to keep 1 hand dry, this will keep things a little cleaner. In a large pan, heat the oil to 350 degrees F and gently submerge the shrimp, 6 at a time. Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove them to a rack to drain. Serve with Peanut Sauce.
Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe (Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks; replace tofu with chicken, if you prefer)
- toasted sesame oil
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
- cut into slices thick as a pencil
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- scant 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (peeled)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 a bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- a couple big pinches of fine-grain sea salt
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 big handful of toasted cashews, chopped up a bit
- a few handfuls of spinach, or chopped kale, or chopped chard
- zest and juice of one lime
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 small handful fresh mint, slivered and 1 small handful fresh basil, slivered
Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. Alternately, you can do this in a dry non-stick pan – one of the few occasions I still use non-stick. When it is hot, add the tofu, and cook until golden – a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside. Add another (generous) splash of oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and spinach and stir-fry for another minute, or until the spinach wilts. Return the tofu to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the hoisin sauce. Cook for another 10-20 seconds, stirring all the while. Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.