All kidding aside, my affection for this book prompted me to do something I've never done - contact an author. I wrote to Monica yesterday and asked her permission to reprint a recipe from Modern Spice. I'm just pleased as punch that she has graciously granted that permission, and I'm happy to offer her delectable shrimp recipe for you today.
Hot, Hotter, Hottest Shrimp:
Recipe reprinted from Modern Spice (Simon & Schuster, 2009) with permission.
- 1/2 cup vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
- 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp. red chile powder or crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 small, green serrano chiles, slit lengthwise
- 2 whole dried red chiles, broken (I used dried chile d'arbol)
- 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
- some chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (my addition)
Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, serrano chiles and dried red chiles and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion begins to change color. Add the sugar and cook for another minute. Add the peanuts.
Drain the marinade from the shrimp and add the shrimp to the onion mixture. Cook over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp are completely cooked through. Add salt, if necessary - I found it wasn't - and serve immediately, garnished with some chopped fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
As written this recipe will serve four *very* happy people.
A couple of notes on the recipe - be sure to have all of your ingredients chopped and ready before you begin cooking as this recipe is more or less a stir-fry ... once you begin cooking, it will progress quickly.
While the list of ingredients calls for red chile powder, we're not talking about the stuff one uses to make chili here. As Monica explains in her wonderful chapter on "The Modern Spice Pantry" - Indian red chile powder is not the same thing as American chili powder, which is a salted mixture of different spices. If you cannot find pure red chile powder, you may substitute crushed red pepper flakes or even some cayenne pepper.
For the heat-averse, you can certainly cut down on both the dried red chiles and the fresh serrano peppers. And, by all means, remove the seeds, stem and ribs from the serranos if you are looking to cut down on the fire factor. Though, personally, I wouldn't dream of it. The dish is perfectly balanced as is and the addition of the roasted peanuts is brilliant ... its that special little touch that really makes it sing. I hope you'll try it!
I simply can't say enough good things about this book. For those out there who fear the exploration of this cuisine, let Modern Spice be your guide. The pantry chapter alone will allay your fear of mysterious spices and by the time you've gotten to the first recipe you'll be chomping at the bit to get to your stove.
Modern Spice is more than a cookbook; its a deeply personal exploration of food, family, culture and more. Monice Bhide's passion for life and food is infectious - it will draw you in, keep you reading, and encourage you to explore. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this treasure - your heart and your palate will thank you.