Friday, January 11, 2008

Jet Lag Cooking: Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Vegetables

When I asked my friend H what it was like to have a baby, her first words were, “well, there’s no difference between am and pm anymore.” After ten days visiting India, it feels like I just had a baby. The only things that are missing are the crib, the stretchmarks, and the actual child. Oh, and the overwhelming sense of tremendous responsibility for the next 18 years. I don’t have that either. Hm. Maybe this was a bad metaphor.

Anyway, India’s 10-1/2 hours ahead of Brooklyn, meaning if I was typing this at the same time last week, I’d be finishing up dinner instead of eating a bowl of Rice Chex. It’d be dark, and my friend S and I would be at the guesthouse, reading the Hindustan Times and listening to stray dogs howl. Now, I’m watching Regis and Kathie Lee … er Howie and Kelly (What the hell happened while I was away?), and pining for a hazelnut coffee.

Though it’s much better these last 24 hours, the switch in night and day played some fun games with my body. For one, I just haven’t been hungry, and that’s never happened before in my life. Not for ten seconds. I also have a slowly-abating head cold which sounds like a simmering volcano every time I cough. Finally, there’s sleep. I’ve been involuntarily rising at 6am and taking three-or-four-hour naps around 2pm.

After rising from my jet lag siesta yesterday, I had an hour for dinner before my roommate’s birthday party. (I wasn’t really hungry, but there would be beer. And beer + no food = hangover city.) The Boyfriend had Chinese takeout from the previous night, and there was lots of brown rice and steamed mixed vegetables (mostly broccoli) left over. So, I whipped open my Cook’s Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipes cookbook (new for Christmas!) and flipped to page 102, where five Asian-oriented stir-fry sauces live to tantalize readers with their tangy goodness.

Following CI's directions for stir-fry, Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Vegetables came together in about 15 minutes. And I liked it. And it used up my leftovers, but turned them into something entirely new. And? And? If I keep making it, I can take more naps in the future. Infinite naps. I may never get over my jet lag by choice.

Please note that there are lots of possibilities here. Tons of options and switch-outs, including substitutions for fresh vegetables and raw meat. I used pre-cooked shrimp because I had it on hand. (I know raw is preferred, but hey.) If you get the chance, try some and let me know whatchoo think. Viva la Cook’s Illustrated!

Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Vegetables
Makes 1 serving with lots of sauce
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe.

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1/3 teaspoon cornstarch
1/6 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup steamed vegetables (I used broccoli.)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
12 medium pre-cooked frozen shrimp (I used Trader Joe’s.)
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I only had powdered, but fresh is preferred.)

1) In a medium bowl, combine  vinegar, orange juice, sugar, ketchup, cornstarch, and salt with a whisk. Set aside.

2) Defrost shrimp under cold water, sopping up any extra moisture with a paper towel. In a small bowl, mix with soy sauce. Set aside.

3) In a large skillet or wok, heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add veggies and cook 1 or 2 minutes, until heated through.

4) Move veggies to outside perimeter of skillet. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

5) Add shrimp to pan and cook another 30 seconds, until heated through

6) Pour sweet and sour sauce to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Serve over brown rice.

NOTE: If you don’t have leftovers lying around, grab a cup of your favorite vegetables (cut up), add them directly to the pan and cook until crisp-tender. (As per Cooks Illustrated, “If using very tough vegetables, add to skillet with ½ cup water, cover and steam over high heat for about 2 minutes; uncover.") Then follow the rest of the directions as-is.

NOTE #2: You can use any kind of meat with this. If it’s not pre-cooked, sauté about 4 ounces (cut into small chunks) over high heat until browned. Then transfer to a clean bowl, and proceed to Step 3. Transfer back to pan in Step 5.

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price per Serving
268 calories, 6.3 g fat, $1.76

Calculations (using broccoli)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $0.16
2 Tablespoons orange juice: 14 calories, 0 g fat, $0.09
2 Tablespoons sugar: 93 calories, 0 g fat, $0.04
1 Tablespoon ketchup: 15 calories, 0 g fat, $0.05
1/3 teaspoon cornstarch: 2 calories, 0 g fat, $0.01
1/6 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1 teaspoon vegetable oil: 44 calories, 5 g fat, $0.02
1 cup steamed vegetables: 31 calories, 0.3 g fat, $0.58
1 teaspoon soy sauce: 3 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
12 medium pre-cooked frozen shrimp: 60 calories, 1 g fat, $0.69
1 clove garlic: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.05
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger: 2 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
TOTAL (which is also per serving): 268 calories, 6.3 g fat, $1.76

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Pennies In My Pocket said...

I do adore a fabulous shrimp dish! This sounds wonderful!! Can't wait to try it!


Joel said...

We made this tonight. The sauce was amazing! We've made sweet and sour from Joy, BH&G, and Best Recipes, and this is by far the closest to what we wanted.

We subbed in rice instead of veggies and skewered the shrimp with some peppers and pineapple. The sriracha was on the table, but it didn't get touched. And that's saying quite a bit around my hands!

Anonymous said...

Does the ginger in this recipe make it noticably spicy? If so, are there any decent milder alternatives like Turmeric perhaps?