Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shrimp in Spicy Tamarind Sauce

Tonight's dinner was from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. The last time I made a sauce with tamarind pulp, it was cloyingly sweet, so I was reluctant to try it again. However, Nguyen's recipe for shrimp in tamarind sauce included sriracha and fish sauce, so I decided it might be worth the gamble to use up the tamarind pulp that had been sitting in my pantry. My decision paid off, as the dish was a nice balance of spicy, sour, and sweet. I served it with Nguyen's cabbage and egg stir-fry; the best I could do as an homage to St. Patrick.

I always appreciate a recipe where I learn a tip that I can carry with me. Nguyen suggests tossing the uncooked shrimp with a generous amount of salt and then immediately rinsing the salt off the shrimp prior to cooking. She says that this quick step will "return the flavor of the sea" to the shrimp. I can't believe I have never heard this before, as this pre-salting of the shrimp imparted a briny flavor, which really did remind me of the sea. This is a step that I will take whenever I cook shrimp, and I urge you to do so, too.

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