We kick off this week with something hot and yummy!
You know how we all have great friends who we don’t get to see very often, even if we live some 30 minutes away from each other? Because—life; it just gets in the way. It’s a little sad, but also kind of bitter-sweet, because when we finally make time for our friendship again, there’s an incredible burst of energy released in the universe! Creative juices are flowing, new ideas are flittering about and in the case of my friend Bela and me, culinary inspiration is apparently only a shrimp or two away!
Bela invited me over for lunch a couple of weeks ago and since we hadn’t seen each other for some time, (and besides, why would I refuse food?) I accepted, eagerly. You see, my friend is one of those people who claim that they don’t cook 😉 , and when you show up they blow your mind with out-of-this-world deliciousness that you remember for months afterwards. Honestly, I think this time she really killed it. She put together this shrimp-eggplant-tomato concoction that transported me to foodie-heaven and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. So I did the most natural thing—I asked her whether she’d mind if I put the recipe on the blog. It looks like she has no objection to my ambition to turn the world into a crustacean-and-eggplant-worshiping bunch of lunatics, muahahahaa, because here it is, in all its spiciness and glory! Oh, and it’s easy AND fast to boot—basically you just chop and throw things into a pan and are ready to dig in in 15-20 minutes!
First things first—if you enjoy your crustaceans with their armour off, you can definitely peel and devein them before cooking, although I think half the fun of eating shrimp is getting them out of their exoskeleton…It’s messy and yummy and the kind of eating that brings you back to your childhood—fingers dripping, face smeared with food stuffs, loud cracks and smacks, you get the picture …
I wouldn’t buy the shrimp already peeled though—they lose a lot of flavour with the peeling. So opt for unpeeled shrimp at the market and peel them yourself if you’d rather have them looking pretty—that’s the best way to preserve flavour and texture. Here is a nice instructional video on peeling and deveining shrimp.
The second most important thing, you’ll need for this recipe, is a large eggplant. I’m telling you guys, the eggplant makes all the difference in this dish. It goes surprisingly well with the other ingredients. Cut the eggplant in large chunks and sauté it in a frying pan or a wok, adding a generous amount of olive oil and some salt, until it’s soft and brown. Then take it out and put it aside until we need it again.
In that same frying pan (or wok), put some olive oil and add the chopped up tomatoes and chili. Give it a good stir and add your shrimp, followed by the garlic, ginger, curry and hot sauce of your choice (we used Sriracha). Season to taste (we added extra salt) and cover the pan for 5 minutes while they cook. Shrimp have very delicate flesh, so it won’t take long before they’re done. They’ll turn a nice orange-rosy shade and that’s your cue to turn the stove off.
Once the shrimp are cooked, it’s time to put the eggplant back in. Give it a vigorous stir—we want the juices to coat the eggplant—and then add a whole bunch of chopped cilantro (also called coriander) and a splash of lime juice. Yum and done! Can you believe this? It takes around 15 minutes to make this dish and the flavours are fantastic (and why wouldn’t they be—these are all fresh ingredients!). I think this is going to be a staple dish for us, thanks to Bela and her love of eggplant 😉 She’s certainly elevated cooking with this vegetable to an art form! I may have to steal some of her other recipes for you guys…If you feel particularly decadent, enjoy a glass of white wine with this delectable shrimp stir-fry! Oh, and try this yummy bread to finish the sauce…
In case you’re wondering what’s happened to our pan—well, Simeon happened, that’s what! He was playing clown-in-the-kitchen, trying to juggle with kitchen utensils, and he dropped it! Evidently, the force was enough to bend the side of the pan. So now we have a crooked pan. It’s not that I mind it while cooking, but it’s really annoying when I take pictures. The crooked thing just bothers my aesthetic sensibilities! Lately, I’d been thinking about buying a really expensive and fancy pan, perhaps even something from Le Creuset, but after this incident, it dawned on me that while I have a pan-juggling clown in the kitchen, I’d better steer away from expensive stuff. Sigh.
- 700-800g shrimp
- 1 large eggplant
- 5-6 mid-size tomatoes
- 1 chili
- 1 bunch cilantro
- olive oil
- hot sauce
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- Cut the eggplant into large chunks and sauté them in olive oil.
- Remove the eggplant from the pan and put the chopped-up tomatoes and diced chili in.
- Add the shrimp, followed by the crushed garlic, diced ginger, the curry, hot sauce and salt.
- Simmer covered for 5 minutes until the shrimp turns rosy.
- Turn off the stove and put the eggplant back in.
- Add the chopped-up cilantro, give it a good stir.