Sunday, May 22, 2005

Southeast Asian sauté

On Wednesday (I think, it was a long week) I cooked one of my favorite dishes for the first time since starting this blog. It’s Marnie Henricksson’s “Southeast Asian Sauté with Shrimp, Spinach, and Coconut Milk” from Everyday Asian. I’ve never cooked it with shrimp but usually use chicken; this week I used Quorn tenders. It’s pretty simple. First you stir-fry some garlic and ginger in oil for a few seconds, then you add some fish sauce and spinach and continue stir-frying. This is the moment when the pan starts splattering like a demon. Then you add the meat and finally, a mixture of half a can of coconut milk and half a cup of water. On top of this, you add some precooked noodles (Henricksson recommends udon because its consistency takes the sauce well) and heat through.

This was a red-letter meal because I harvested some spinach from the garden for it. Of course, the spinach cooked down into little green bits, so it was lost in the final reckoning. Moral: next time use more spinach. The Quorn tenders worked well in this dish; they had a little more flavor than the chicken breast meat I normally use. The overall taste of the dish is rather mild; on one hand very bland meat (or tofu) will make it boring but on the other hand something like beef is too strongly flavored. On this occasion, I got some toasty bits on the pan while stir-frying the Quorn tenders, so that added more of a reddish tint to the meal (as well as more flavor) than usual.

This sauté reminds me of Italian pasta meals with a cheese-based sauce, such as fettucini Alfredo. The coconut milk is curdled by the fish sauce, and becomes a creamy cheese-like sauce.

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