I always choose my meals based on what we have. As a caterer, I locally sourced all my ingredients and planned the menu based on what was available at the time; I grew up in a "waste not, want not" environment; and my culinary training in banquets and garde manger taught me to get really creative with an empty walk-in at the end of the week. You could say that I've been conditioned to buy what's fresh (or on sale) and figure out what to do with it later.
Therefore, when I share my recipes with you, please take with you the understanding that when it comes to cooking, there are no rules. There is experimentation and best practices, but never rules. When I teach, I try to demystify cooking by turning it into an adventure in flavor rather than a rigid set of instructions. Most of my recipes and meals can have multiple substitutions with great results. For example, the below shrimp recipe would be just as good served over rice as noodles. It would be great if you used chicken instead of shrimp.
Personally, I think once you understand flavor combinations anything is possible in cooking. So, when I chose to make this dish, it came from the fact that I had a bag of frozen gulf shrimp that was overdue for some attention. On my counter sat a jar of local raw honey and I had just purchased some spicy Thai noodles at the farmers market so they were fresh in my mind. If my shrimp had been a little bigger, I might have preferred making a Thai Honey BBQ and grilling them, but these turned out great.
Spicy Thai Honey Shrimp
Serves: 4 (although we had extra shrimp) Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- 1 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tsp The Spice & Tea Exchange™ Thai Red Curry Spice Blend
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 8 oz pasta (you can use linguine, soba noodles, vermicelli, whatever you like OR substitute with white rice)
- 2 green onions, sliced on diagonal (or chopped)
- small handful of cilantro, chopped (Optional)
For the Sauce:
- 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced/grated
- 1 heaping tsp fresh ginger, finely minced/grated
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp The Spice & Tea Exchange™ Thai Red Curry Spice Blend
- 1/4 cup pasta water (just reserve a little from the pasta before you drain it. You can substitute with broth, brewed green tea, or plain hot water. - See, no rules)
- Season shrimp with Thai Red Curry Spice and honey, then set aside in fridge for 15-20 minutes. Note: This is where you can season to your liking. Use slightly more honey for more sweet and less heat, or more spice blend to kick up the heat. I prefer to taste the shrimp so I kept things balanced.
- Make sauce. I really like the flavor of fresh ginger and garlic in Asian cuisine so I grabbed my handy microplane to grate both. However, you can substitute with dried minced garlic and ground ginger, if you prefer. Whisk all sauce ingredients except for the pasta water and set aside.
- Make pasta using the directions on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup or more water before draining. You might need it later on. (If you use plain pasta, don't be afraid to add the Thai Red Curry spice blend to the water. A tablespoon of spice in the water would really kick up the heat!)
- Heat saute pan or wok on high heat until super hot. You're going to work quickly from here on out so get your materials ready. Make an assembly line on the counter next to your pan: sauce, shrimp, drained pasta, reserved pasta water.
- Add sauce to hot pan followed by shrimp. Toss quickly to coat shrimp and cook evenly. Shrimp takes 5 minutes or less to cook through so don't overcook it! You are looking for it to turn opaque.
- Once shrimp is done cooking, add pasta and turn off heat. Toss ingredients together adding the pasta water, as needed, if pasta absorbs too much liquid.
- Toss in chopped green onion and/or cilantro to finish.
Wine Pairing: I used a Cabernet Franc Rosé, which was fabulous. You can also try a Reisling or even a sparkling wine would pair well.