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Posts Tagged ‘Shrimp’

Everyone loves pad thai.  Even the pickiest of eaters, who won’t dare anything more exotic than sweet and sour chicken (I know Chinese versus Thai, I’m making a point here), love pad thai.  Unfortunately like most Asian foods, no store bought mix, frozen entree, or other concoction measures up to the real deal.  This is due to the unique nature of the “sauce” that makes pad thai what it is.  This characteristic pad thai sauce is really not a sauce at all, but very heavily seasoned scrambled eggs that you fold the other ingredients into before they solidify, leaving the dish impossible to be made well, if not made fresh. This recipe is one of my girlfriend’s absolute favorites, and I decided to make it last night in celebration of me finding some work! As I have been trying to be healthy lately (and doing well I might add!  Eight lbs down, and the last five posts have all been “healthy”) I thought I would run the numbers on this recipe.  The final results, assuming the recipe makes four servings, come out to almost exactly 500 calories per serving (though we dare you to only eat one serving!) So, with no further blabber, here is the recipe:

My mise for the meal (essential for this dish)

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

3 tbs peanut oil

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tbs white sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tbs oyster sauce

1/2 tbs golden mountain seasoning sauce (Tuong Gai Vi, if you have been trying to make Thai food, and it doesn’t taste right, this is what you are missing.

1 1/2 tbs Ketchup (yes thats right, tomato ketchup, like Heinz, I promise)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 lb raw shrimp (whatever size is cheapest that day works)

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken breast meat, chopped to bite size pieces

1/2 lb dry rice vermicelli

1 c. bean sprouts (I forgot these at the grocery store, so they aren’t in the pictures)

3 tbs dry, unsalted, roasted peanuts, crushed a little (I throw em in a plastic baggy and beat them with either my meat pounder or a rolling pin a couple of times so they are busted up but not ground

1 tsp red chili flakes

2 green onions sliced thinly

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

First I would like to say that due to the extremely fast cooking time of this recipe, it is essential that you make a mise, as has been discussed in previous posts.  If you do not do this, your dish will not come out.

So in the interest of preparing this dish, you must first cook your vermicelli.  Follow the directions on the packaging for the cooking time, and once the noodles are cooked completely strain and thoroughly rinse the noodles in ice cold water, while pulling and separating the noodles with you hands.  Vermicelli is notoriously bad at sticking to itself, and thoroughly rinsing the noodles while working them will prevent this.  After the noodles are ice cold, and strained, pour a tablespoon of oil on them and toss to coat, again to prevent sticking.  Cover the noodles with a sheet of plastic wrap until you are ready to use them.

Next, defrost the shrimp in cold water and peel them completely, including the tails. Next you are going to precook the shrimp, and I have a trick for this that will keep the shrimp from being overcooked (as they will be cooked again gently while assembling the dish, and no one likes tough overcooked shrimp).  To perfectly cook shrimp that will later be cooked again in stir-frys, pasta sauces, etc. bring a medium pot of water to a boil for 1/2 lb cold uncooked shrimp.  Dump the shrimp into the water and stir gently from time to time to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot, the instant the pot returns to a boil the shrimp are ready to be removed.  At this point they will still look slightly undercooked, and thats ok, thats what we want, so they can finish later, but not end up overcooked. If the shrimp are 40 count or larger, cut them into bite sized pieces and set aside for later.

Finally, combine the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, golden mountain seasoning and ketchup in a ramekin or bowl and set aside.  Now if you have cut everything else up, and measured all your ingredients you are ready to cook!

Pad thai in serving dish, garnished and ready to be dished out

Most recipes for Asian dishes are very unhealthy because they call for ungodly amounts of oil.  I have found that this is completely unnecessary, and have learned a trick that keeps food from sticking to the wok without all the oil.  The trick is that if at any point your food starts sticking to the wok, pour in a scant 1-2 tbs of very cold water and toss your ingredients.  If you have a well seasoned wok, this will unstick your food without altering the taste of the dish.  Be sure you only use small amounts of water at a time or it wont vaporize on hitting the wok, and will water down your dish.

For the Actual Dish:

(This cooking time is extremely short, like 5 minutes, and thus no pictures of the process were taken)

Heat a wok over very high heat, and add oil.  Once the oil “dances” add in the garlic and cook quickly, stirring constantly until it is just starting to take on a little color (just a little, no one likes burnt garlic).  Now add in the chicken and shrimp and cook, tossing constantly, to heat through.  Add in the sauce, mix with meats and garlic then add in the two beaten eggs.  Stir quickly to combine the eggs and sauce and let sit for about 2 minutes, until the eggs just start to set.  At this point add in the vermicelli and toss to coat in the egg-sauce mixture.  Add in all but a pinch or two of bean sprouts and cook, tossing constantly until bean sprouts are starting to limp, and the noodles are heated through.  Turn out the pad thai to a serving dish and garnish in this order: peanuts, red pepper flakes, reserved bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro.  Thats all there is to it, you are now ready to eat!

Healthy Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai, ready for scarfage!

And as always, Enjoy!

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There are few people I know who love food, who do not love a delicious creamy curry dish.  Unfortunately, as we all know, they aren’t the most healthy dish.  The main reason for this is what makes them so delicious… coconut milk.  Coconut milk is delicious, sweet, creamy, and the perfect counterpart to the sharp and spicy flavors of a good curry paste or powder.  This delicious nectar of the southeast Pacific Gods is seemingly perfectly created to support the lives of the struggling people who have lived in that region for so long.  One can of coconut milk falls in at a whopping 640-700 calories per can 81% of which comes from its 63 g of fat…

A pork and peanut curry I made with the coconut milk alternative

Now that may have been great for the impoverished vegetarians of southeast Asia who work from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep.  But I’m thinking it probably is not so good for us lazy Americans.  So how do we get around this without giving up curries?  Well I have found a pseudo way around over half of the calories and 57 grams of the fat.  To the left is one example of a Thai style curry I made with my little short cut secret to maintain the taste and integrity of the dish while being healthier.  It works very well, so well you probably wouldn’t know the difference if I didn’t tell you.

So here is my secret to a healthy coconut milk alternative, followed by an Indian style shrimp curry I made the other night….

Healthy Coconut Milk Alternative

1/4 c. sweetened angel flake coconut

1 can 2% evaporated milk

Place the coconut in either a blender or a food processor and add the milk.  Blend for 10-12 seconds and let the coconut “steep” for about an hour.  Strain the milk to remove the coconut puree, and use as directed for coconut milk.

The coconut in the food processor

The coconut and milk post blending, ready to sit





















My Healthy Curry Mise (plus the requisite cooking cocktail...)

Healthy Shrimp and Spinach Curry

1/4 c. peanut oil

1/2 c. onion, finely diced

1/2 c. red bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 c. carrot, thinly sliced on the bias

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

1 tbs curry powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

1 can of Healthy Coconut Milk Alternative (see above)

1 lb shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined

2 c. finely shredded spinach

First begin by heating a wok over high heat, add oil and wait until the surface of the oil “dances.”  Add the vegetables and stir fry until the onions and peppers have cooked but not browned, and the carrots are beginning to soften, as below.

Veggies in the wok, softened, and ready for seasonings

Add in the garlic, ginger, and the seasonings and cook, stirring for 30 seconds to a minute, until the seasonings have released their aromaticity.  Reduce the heat and add in the Healthy Coconut Milk Alternative.  Bring to a slow simmer as below, and stir occasionally to eliminate a skin and prevent scalding for 5-10 minutes or until thickened.

A gentle simmer to thicken the sauce

Once thickened nicely, add in the shrimp, increase heat to medium high, and cook until shrimp are almost finished… between 5-7 minutes (look for them to be turning a gentle pink, but still vaguely translucent).  Once the shrimp are within 2-3 minutes of being finished, add in the spinach and continue to cook for the final 2-3 minutes, just enough to finish the shrimp and wilt the spinach.

All done cooking, spinach gently wilted

At this point all that is left to do is pour some over some rice and, as always enjoy…

Healthy Shrimp and Spinach Curry

Healthy Shrimp and Spinach Curry

Just for the record, final stats come in (1/4 prepared recipe with 3/4 cup of rice) at 459 calories per serving… so Enjoy!!!

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