spicy garlic shrimp

It is slowly dawning on me that only 2 weeks of my summer remain. As amazing a learning experience it has been, I am more than eager to return back to the midwest, where things are admittedly simpler and slower, because at this rate I’m starting to forget what it feels like to take a break and truly relax. In anticipation of this, I noticed I’ve been incorporating bits and pieces of home into my life here in Providence. I turn on NPR, and instantly I am taken back to car rides with my father in the mornings on the way to school; on Saturday afternoons I put on ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!’ not only because I adore Peter Sagal, but also because it reminds me of spontaneous weekend trips out to lunch. I even felt a twinge of homesickness the other day when I heard an old couple speaking Chinese on the bus.

Food always has that component of nostalgia (remember Anton Ego in Ratatouille?). Take this garlic shrimp, for instance. One of my mother’s frequent meals at home is a plate of large tiger prawns, sauteed in fragrant garlic, ginger, and a bit of soy sauce. When I went to Whole Foods I had no intention of making this dish at all, but the friendly Whole Foods fish guy convinced me to try out these crustaceans. As I was contemplating the unexpected purchase, I thought I’d try to recreate her recipe, but then I decided I’d include a bit of a twist inspired by my own experiences. I decided to add a spoonful of Korean red pepper paste (고추장, or gochujang), a condiment that has become one of my favorites after a trip to Korea last summer. We rarely eat anything spicy at home because my father and brother’s palates can’t tolerate any degree of it, but an expedition last summer to Korea and Southern China has definitely adapted mine (I kept a short travel diary here). Balanced with honey, the flavor combination worked out perfectly.

I’ve never really handled whole shrimp before, but I love a challenge; deveining turned out not to be that bad (just be gentle!). Interestingly enough, my entire life when I would eat prawns at home I would be completely grossed out by my parents eating the portion inside the head, but after making them myself… There’s just something about lovingly and painstakingly preparing and cooking the shrimp (or any food, for that matter) that makes you not want to waste any of it. Plus, I learned how absolutely awesome that portion is: all the flavor is concentrated there! Ultimately, this was precisely what I needed, what I envisioned: flavors of home, with a kick of my own. It was entirely satisfying and delicious.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp
serves 1

1/2 lb (8 oz.) medium-size shrimp (whole)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp Korean red pepper paste (고추장, or gochujang. I love this stuff, though in a pinch I really think any hot sauce will work. Thicken with cornstarch or flour as needed)
rice wine (I used a combination of chicken broth and white wine)
1 tsp soy sauce
2-3 tsp honey
chopped scallions for garnish

1. Wash shrimp and pat dry. Devein, leaving heads on.

pre-deveining

2. Turn pan on to medium low, and heat olive oil. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add shrimp to pan and stir to coat.

3. Add soy sauce and red pepper paste to pan and stir.

adding the red pepper paste

3. Once the shrimp are almost fully cooked, deglaze the pan with wine or stock (trust me, you will want to deglaze this pan well. The shrimp essence is wonderful). Add honey to taste, and simmer until done.

4. Plate. Pour sauce on top, sprinkle with green onions, and serve. Eat as messily as you like.

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avocado alfredo

I haven’t been sleeping or eating very well recently because my mind has been a bit restless. In the summer especially there are nights I lie awake in my bed (which currently happens to be an unopened mattress on the floor of my apartment) and think about what’s going to happen in the future, what I’m going to do with myself. I wake up in the morning at an ungodly hour exhausted but unable to fall back asleep for fear of losing productivity. This is especially exasperating on rainy days (like today) where I would love nothing more than to turn back into said bed and make myself comfortable again.

This is a side effect of the summer disease that seems to afflict me every year, but I don’t mind; this is an opportune time to re-center myself and figure out where my real interests lie. For instance, one of the realizations I’ve come to recently is that I’m not actually that interested in designing products… which is kind of unfortunate for a student studying industrial design (I was contemplating changing the name of this blog after this epiphany but I figured it’d be too inconvenient. I’m still a design student after all!). I won’t bore you with details but I can reassure you that all is going to be fine – all I know is that I want to create meaningful things for people. I enjoy ambiguity anyway – more opportunities! Maybe I’ll quit school and just food blog all day (Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise I’m just kidding).

Another side effect of summer, for me, at least, is the desire to eat light foods. I wish I could explain it more articulately, but basically I prefer my food especially simple and minimal (but of course, still delicious). This pasta fits the bill perfectly. I had an avocado that was perfectly ripe, and fresh basil leaves from the plant I had purchased for $2 (!) a few weeks ago. This flavor profile is one of my favorites: garlic, lemon, and black pepper are just perfect for each other, and the addition of basil complements it so well.

Avocado Alfredo from Oh She Glows
serves 1

1/2 avocado
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
handful of pasta (I used spinach)

1. Bring water to a boil and start cooking your pasta (It should take about 10 minutes, which is more than enough time to put the sauce together)

2. Slice your avocado in half; store the other half for something delicious later.


3. Either place all the ingredients in a food processor or just finely dice everything (it’s still good, I promise).

4. Combine all the ingredients using a fork. If you like your sauce looser you can add some olive oil.

5. When the pasta is finished cooking, toss with the sauce (and possibly garnish with lemon zest and more black pepper) and serve.

I know it looks and sounds mildly suspicious, but I assure you that it is SO. GOOD. It’s somewhat rich, but not overwhelmingly so as in regular alfredo sauces. I’m sure it’d also go well with other things (i.e. a protein, other veggies) but the simplicity of this dish is why it’s so lovely. Also it’s incredibly healthy (this is… vegan?!?), though I didn’t notice until I’d finished devouring the entire plate.

Green, creamy deliciousness

lemon garlic oven-roasted salmon with asparagus

As I grow older, I realize that one of the greatest indicators of the amount of independence I have is the amount of cooking I do. I’m no chef by any means but having the opportunity to cook (or making time to cook) means that I no longer rely on outside providers, be it my mother or my college dining hall, and must learn to fend off hunger with my own abilities (of which I don’t have many… but that’s ok). As much as I miss the security of having delicious food available to me at all hours of the day, I’m also excited about the process of learning to do it myself.

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