Monday, March 29, 2010

"Pasta - a passion" - Hot-and-sour shrimp pasta

Date I made this recipe: March 28, 2010

Pasta – a passion by Nina Dreyer Hensley, Jim Hensley and Paul Lowe
Published by: Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 0-28195-08106-2

Recipe: Hot-and-sour shrimp pasta – p. 28

“And now let’s turn to the weather….”

People, the weather in these parts has been unbelievable—no snow, no cold, just mostly sunny with highs in the 50’s—in March! And not to jinx it, but it appears we are set to cruise into April in the low 70’s—unbelievable.

But this unbelievable weather snap has wrecked havoc into my “spring” menu planning. Normally I’d be up to my eyeballs in soups and stew recipes as we have often had basketball tournament snowstorms to contend with but not this year. So a major rethink was in order.

And so I toyed with lighter foods – maybe something Middle Eastern or even chicken but nah, too boring. And then I fixated, and I mean fixated on pasta. I don’t know why (except I had the TV commercial of old “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day” on the brain). So then I pulled out my battery of Italian cookbooks and leafed through and contemplated and considered and then settled on an Asian pasta dish. So much for red sauce!

This cookbook had such yummy-sounding recipes that I almost felt guilty about going for something Asian but I tell you what, it was the right choice. This recipe is delicious and easy. In fact, I prepared it just after my husband and I got back from a walk around our neighborhood. It wasn’t the warmest walk we’ve ever taken (as evidence by my freezing cold ears) but the sun was out, the snow was gone and ahhhhh….

Hot-and-sour shrimp pasta – serves 6
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tablespoons sake
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 pound tagliatelle (or fettucini)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, cut into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red pepper, crushed (or use red pepper flakes)

Hot-and-sour sauce
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Put the shrimp in a bowl with the sake, ginger, and sesame oil. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. (Note: I purchased already-cooked shrimp and it didn’t seem to make much difference as to taste. Just make sure you don’t overcook the shrimp.)

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the red onion, garlic and red pepper. Saute until the onion is soft. Set aside. Mix all the sauce ingredients together and stir into the vegetables then stir constantly until the sauce boils. Cook the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes, until it thickens. Gently mix in the shrimp and pasta. (Note: these instructions just didn’t make sense! Why set the vegetables aside then turn around and say add the sauce to the vegetables and then stir until the sauce boils? Am I right? So I added the sauce to the vegetables and then cooked as directed and then added the shrimp and pasta and all was well with the world and with my stomach!).

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