Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thai Chili Shrimp and How I Take Pictures for the Blog

What do you do when you have little time but need to get dinner on the table?

I used to exercise the "pick up the phone" option quite a bit, but moving to a new house has changed our dining habits.  We don't pass through town anymore to get home, nor do we live close to the major shopping and eating roads. 

It seems a lot more convenient to grab a skillet and get to cooking.

Dinner took 5 minutes tonight and used only 5 ingredients: shrimp, garlic, oil, soy sauce and Mae Ploy Thai chili sauce.

Sweet and spicy, Thai chili sauce is very versatile.  It can be used as a dip for spring or summer rolls, brushed on chicken or shrimp as a BBQ glaze, used in stir fries ... the sky's the limit.  It's a great thing to have in one's pantry for quick dinners.

On another note, my colleague Jeorge, who is a photographer, asked how I take my pictures.  My set up is primitive and looks like this:

I use a Lowel Ego photo light and something white to bounce the light back toward the food. My digital Canon Rebel -- one of the first digital cameras sold -- is so old that my new laptop doesn't recognize it. Maybe it's time to upgrade, but as a blogger, I think anyone can take good pictures without lots of investment.

Try this dish out with some white rice and a sauteed green vegetable.  Fast and delicious!

Thai Chili Shrimp

1 lb. large shrimp, defrosted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. soy sauce
Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce
Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add a little oil and saute garlic for 10 seconds.  Add shrimp and stir fry until opaque, a couple minutes.  Add a little soy sauce for flavor and sweet chili sauce to coat (as much or as little as you like.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Shrimp That Never Was

I like to live dangerously.

I scurry here and there, always on the verge of a disaster, so close to the edge on deadlines that I can feel the wind from the abyss blowing upward through my hair and hear pebbles and loose branches scuttling from under my flats as they go spinning outward into nothingness.

Sometimes I make it, smiling serenely like Martha Stewart on tv as she displays her Good Things.

Other times I trip and fall head-first off the cliff, arms flailing like a colorful human pinwheel.

This time around I found myself running into my house 20 minutes before my guests.  No problem, right?  A little get together after work with wine and a few tasty treats to welcome new workmates Nancy and Erin.  Easy peasy.

Slam! went the drawers as I threw random clutter into their dark recesses.  Swish! went the broom as dirt bounced into the dustpan.  Spray! went the water as it ran merrily over snap peas, red pepper, and carrot crudites. Crackle! went the bag as it popped open and out tumbled pita chips on a platter with bowls of hummus and red pepper-artichoke spreads. Creak! went the oven as it received the coconut curry chicken springrolls. Sigh! went the vacuum-packed container as it released the salty perfume of prosciutto destined to adorn the tops of bread sticks.

I'm rockin' and rollin' to my symphony of sounds.  I even have time to line a platter with frizzy, sassy kale on which I'm going to display my main appetizer of Old Bay Shrimp.

5 minutes to go. Splash! goes the shrimp into its simmering, seasoned bath.


I watched in horror as white scum materialized and latched onto the shrimp's curves, transforming them into mutant shrimp.  Eww.


You'd think I'd be crying now as I fall off my metaphorical cliff, but who's at the door but Ruth with her famous multi-layer Mexican dip, Jeannette with her Italian pastries, and Julia with her pretty rollups.  Sarah, Erin, Elizabeth, Desiree and Nancy bring wine, and in no time, we're enjoying ourselves in the family room, shrimp discreetly hidden away in the kitchen.

And that's how the shrimp became The Shrimp that Never Was, and I averted disaster.

At least this time around.


P.S. The next night I opened another bag of defrosted Trader Joe's wild rock shrimp and Old Bayed it to see what happened.  Was it the brand of shrimp I bought or something else?  This batch turned out fine, and it's what you see in the opening picture.  I can only posit that the shrimp in the first bag was not fully defrosted when I dumped it in the pot and maybe that's what causes the floating protein (scum).  If you know what happened, please comment.

We make this shrimp a lot as it's easy, tasty, and fast.  Great for football viewing and cocktail parties.

The recipe for Old Bay Seasoning Shrimp is here.