Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14: Sweet, Tart and Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad

I am drinking a really delicious California zinfandel tonight, and neglecting to eat. It's been a bit of a stressful day, and I'll tell you about it some other time, but suffice it to say that alcohol and an empty stomach are a surprisingly good combination, if one that's making me maudlin at the moment.

My mystery subscription to Bon Apetit arrived again today. There is something great about getting a cooking magazine in the mail, there really is, especially for someone like me, who reads about food for fun. Bon Apetit is a terrific magazine too, full of great, smart, creative, clever, delicous-looking food that is accessable and yet elegant.

This is from Bon Apetit. I hate most restaurant Chinese food but I love great Asian flavors, like the ones described here. I like that the ingredients are exotic without being precious or obscure. I like these seasonal ingredients.

I like wine. I think I shall have another glass of wine or two.

Sweet, Tart, and Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad


1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1 teaspoon hot chili paste
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger


2 pounds cucumbers
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cups lightly salted roasted peanuts
1 pound cooked deveined peeled medium shrimp
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1 large red bell pepper, cut into matchstick-size strips
3 green onions, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 torn fresh Thai basil or regular basil leaves
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, toasted

Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl; let dressing stand while preparing salad.

Peel half of cucumbers; cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with small spoon. Cut into 1/4 inch cubes and place in large strainer over set over bowl.

Cut off ends from remaining cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Cut halves crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices and add to strainer. Sprinkle with salt, let drain 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanuts, saute until golden. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel.

Combine shrimp, cabbage, bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and basil in large bowl.

Pat cucumber pieces dry and add to salad. Toss with dressing, sprinkle with peanuts and sesame seeds.

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