Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bang Bang Shrimp

Am I the last person on the planet to discover this dish?  I had it for the first time when I lived in New Jersey.  I blame it on the fact that there is no Bonefish Grill in Dallas.  And no, I am not driving to Southlake.  I think this recipe does some justice to a pound of fabulous shrimp, whether or not it's close to the original.  Crispy, spicy, tangy...I say it feeds 2 to 4 based on portions, but let's be honest here.  You're not going to tell anyone you made this, are you?

Bang Bang Shrimp

1 pound high-quality fresh raw shrimp
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Peanut oil, for frying
Chili Aioli
2 green onions, green and light green parts only, sliced
Shredded iceburg lettuce

Clean and devein shrimp, including removing tails. Soak in buttermilk, refrigerated, for 30 to 45 minutes.

Combine flour, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt. Dredge shrimp in seasoned flour mixture. Heat peanut oil in a deep pan or Dutch oven to 350-360°F. Deep fry the shrimp in batches for 2 minutes. The shrimp should be light golden brown. Remove shrimp and drain on paper towels.

Place the shrimp in a large bowl and add half of the sauce and toss to coat while warm. Add more sauce as needed to coat evenly. Serve shrimp on a bed of shredded lettuce and garnish with green onion.

Makes 4 appetizer servings or 2 dinner portions

Chili Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce
2 tablespoons Mae Ploy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Granulated sugar and salt, if needed, to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Shiva Indian Restaurant: Saag Paneer

I can't even remember when I first started eating Indian food.  I'm sure a friend dragged me to a buffet and pointed at what wasn't too scary for a naive white girl.  But it was a revelation.  Indian food is so full of spice (and not just the hot stuff)...that it hits your tongue like a little nuclear bomb.  Yes, I think it's that good.

I always look for saag paneer when I visit an Indian restaurant, and I just can't seem to make it through a home-cooked Indian meal without making a pot for the side.  Except for the side turns into enough-for-lunch-for-a-week.  Not that I mind.

Saag Paneer
Adapted from Shiva Indian Restaurant in Houston, TX

1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1 ounce fresh ginger
1 (1-pound) bag frozen chopped spinach
1 cup plain Greek or Indian yogurt
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6-8 ounces paneer, cut into small cubes
1½ to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
Pinch of sugar

Grind the onion, garlic, and ginger into a fine paste.

In a medium saucepan, combine the paste, spinach, yogurt, buttermilk, and spices.  Simmer at medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  Pour the spinach mixture carefully into a large food processor or blender.  Process until the spinach is creamier and no longer chunky, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Pour the mixture back into the pan.

Add the whipping cream and simmer the mixture for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the spinach has a thick, creamy consistency.  Add the cheese, and simmer for 5 minutes until warmed through.  Season with salt and a pinch of sugar if the spinach is too sour.

Makes 6 servings