shrimp curry

This is kind of like my secret recipe (shhhhhhhhhh). It’s my variation on shrimp curry that is traditional in Burmese cuisine. Some versions have tomatoes but mine doesn’t. The key to the rich flavors in this dish is that I get whole shrimp with the head on. When you peel the shell and carapace, save the guts inside the heads aka shrimp mustard (or crab butter or lobster tamale in the case of other crustaceans). This is what gives the really creamy flavor and red color to the dish.

Start with caramelizing some onions with some oil. Add some peppers (whatever you have on hand) for some heat if you’d like. Keep everything on low-med heat.
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I think I also put in some garlic as well. Not entirely necessary. Stir frequently so that the onions don’t burn. Sometimes I put a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (japanese spice mix) spice which is untraditional in this dish but I like the heat and color that it gives. If you don’t have that some paprika or cayenne pepper will do to add some color.
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Once the onions are well caramelized add the shrimp, the shrimp mustard, and let it chill. Do not stir!
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You’ll see that the shrimp will turn on the bottom side and once it is about pink halfway through body. Turn the shrimp over. Add some cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the residual heat finish cooking the shrimp so you don’t overcook them.
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braised tofu

I don’t really know what to call this tofu dish. It’s not really a stir fry. The tofu is sort of braised in the sauce but just barely so I guess it is a braised tofu dish. The key ingredients that go in this are the mushrooms that give the sauce a nice earthy mushroomy taste and not bland. So here’s how to make it.

Cut up some tofu into square pieces about 1 cm thick. I like to use medium firm tofu for this because that is the softest tofu I can handle without crumbling it. Some people like firmer tofu which is fine but I like my fried tofu to be soft in the center. Blot the pieces dry with a paper towel so that hot oil doesn’t splatter on you when you fry them. Add 2 tbsp of oil to a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and add the tofu. Get them brown on both sides.
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Take out the tofu and set them aside. To this new pan add some chopped garlic (however much you want), mushrooms, and whatever leftover vegetables you have in the fridge (carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, etc). I’m using fresh shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms here because those are my two favorite. You can use any kind you like. Who am I to tell you what to do? (I may silently judge you from afar) Oh I should also tell you sometimes I add a few drops of sesame oil at this step if I’m in the mood. Sesame oil is such a strong flavor that a little goes a long way and sometimes I’m not always in the mood for that shit.
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Add a little salt to taste (not too much because you will be adding chicken stock later) and then splash in some of this Shao Xing rice wine. This part is crucial because Shao Xing rice wine has a really nice flavor that I haven’t found in other cooking wines.
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Add a teaspoon or so of oyster sauce and add enough chicken stock to come up to the top of the vegetables. Everything up to now has been vegan so if you want to go that route, use vegetable stock and skip the oyster sauce.
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I think I added some leftover broccolini at this point. Who knows exactly what I did? This dish is a little different every time I make it.
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Add the tofu back to the pan and turn things over so the tofu can braise in the delicious liquid.
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At this point you can thicken the sauce with some cornstarch/tapioca starch in water (1tsp starch/2 tbsp water) or just let the sauce reduce by itself.
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Dinner tonight

First, let me tell you that this is the only acceptable way to eat broccoli. Cut the broccoli into florets as you desire. You can wash them if you want but you want the broccoli to be dry when you roast them. Toss the broccoli in a tablespoon or two of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast them in your favorite roasting pan at 450 degrees until brown. I’m using my favorite cast iron pan!

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Look how delicious that looks. The roasting makes them tender and caramelizes the florets. How can you make this any better? Add some parmesan cheese or lemon zest.

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Yes, I ate them all.

Salt and pepper shrimp!

One of my favorite things to eat. Head, shell, and tail. A good Chinese seafood restaurant will have a live tank with shrimp, they’re pretty small since the shell will be more delicate and it’s easier to eat everything. The ones I get from the store near me are from the Gulf of Mexico. They’re a little bit bigger than the ones that restaurants serve. Not a problem for me, I just want some shrimp!
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The first thing you want to do is take a pair of kitchen shears and trim the antennae, rostrum (the pointy part on the head, be careful not to stick yourself), and the eyes if they make you queasy…
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Then just dust the shrimp with some flour (rice, all-purpose, either will do), salt, and pepper. Be liberal with the pepper. You can use a zip-loc bag or a plastic container and tumble the shrimp with the seasonings.
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Then fry the shrimp in some oil, something neutral like vegetable or peanut oil until the outside turns pink. This and the carry over heat is enough to cook the shrimp all the way through.
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You can serve them as is with rice or if you’re a little more adventurous, you can make a quick aromatic stir fry (garlic, chives, green onion, diced onions, chili peppers, whatever you have on hand) and toss the shrimp in it to get the oniony, garlicy, spicy aromatics on the shrimp.
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I had some garlic, chives, and onions on hand so I quickly sauteed them and topped the shrimp.
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Some people will peel the shrimp or take off the heads but that ruins all the fun of eating the shell and crunchy heads.

Want a splendid pie, Pizza-pizza pie, Every minute, every second, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy.

2 terracotta tiles: $2.16
2 balls of pizza dough: $5.18
1 jar of tomato sauce: $1.89
1 ball of fresh mozzerella: $3.99
making your own pizza at home: fuck yeah
(makes about four servings for around $10)

Okay, I cheated a little by buying premade dough and using jarred tomato sauce but this was mostly to test out the technique of using a terracotta tile setup and broiling the pizza. A lot of people use pizza stones that cost upwards to a hundred dollars, but you can get a nice 12in x 12in terracotta tile from a hardware store and it’ll do the trick. So the point of using a pizza stone, usually clay or ceramic, is so that it distributes heat evenly, retains heat, and the porous structure absorbs moisture resulting in a crispier crust.

I was trying to duplicate NY style brick oven pizza with nice charring on the bottom and a crisp thin crust. In order to achieve that you need a hot-as-fuck oven (over 800 C) that only wood fired coal ovens can achieve. So how do you do this at home? Well, one guy on the internet actually broke the safety latch on his oven and used the self cleaning cycle to get it super hot. I don’t think I can do that, so I did the next best thing. Using the terracotta tiles and getting my oven as hot as I could.

I put one on the top rack 1.5in away from the broiler and another in the middle rack and turned the broiler on and let the oven heat for half an hour. The rack set up wasn’t intentional. I wanted to get both tiles on the top rack close to the broiler but both wouldn’t fit.

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I made a total of 5 pies. First two I got 2 pies from 1 dough ball about 12in in size and I found that the dough was too thick. Nice and chewy inside toasty outside. A good pie but not what I was looking for. The next 3 I made were from one doughball and that was a good thickness.

I tried to stretch them out but ended up using a rolling pin. I’m not as daring to toss the pizza…yet.

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You can see on the right the first ones I made where they were thicker and on the left are the ones I later made that were a bit thinner.
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I experimented with the distance of the tiles from the broiler, cooking time, and a few other things.

So here’s one of the pies on a makeshift pizza peel (cutting board). I got it nice and thin and then threw some flour on top. Flipped it over and brushed a little olive oil on the top. Also I learned that you need to use a fork and poke some holes in the pizza otherwise the dough will poof up (the steam has to go somewhere). Then I slid it on the tile in the middle of the oven.
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I am a MacGyver in the kitchen.
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After about a minute, when the outside is cooked, I take it out and then put about 1 TBSP of sauce then some mozzarella. Put it back in until the cheese is bubbly and the outside is slightly charred.

What it looks like after taking it out:
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Toppings:
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Back in the oven on the top rack:
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End result:
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Up-skirt shot:
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Another one I made:
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Overall, the pizzas were delicious. Anything fresh out of the oven will be delicious. However, I would’ve liked more charring. I’m still going to play around with the broiler and tile setup to get the most heat out of the tiles and good charring without burning the pizza. Next time I might even try my own sauce and pizza dough. I think it would also be good to put the tomato sauce and cheese right on the raw dough and just leaving it on the top rack the entire time to get some more color out of the cheese. The problem with that is the bottom won’t get as crisp as I want.

Bulgogi

This recipe as easy as it’s going to get.

Here’s my tweaked bulgogi (korean bbq) recipe that I use because it’s easy to remember based on proportions.

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp grated ginger (optional)
1 medium onion, sliced
a few stalks of scallions
dried chili flakes/peppers to taste

*Some people use apple juice instead of sugar, I think I might try that next time. Sounds delicious.

This makes enough marinade for about 1/2 lb of beef, thinly sliced (any cut you want, preferably something tender). Marinade for at least half an hour or preferably overnight. Of course you can adjust the marinade if you like yours sweeter or saltier. I like to make big batches of this when ribeye steak goes on sale. If you can’t get your butcher to slice it thin for you, just throw it in the freezer for about an hour so it’s firm and slice thinly (as thin as you can!) against the grain. I put them in single-serve baggies and freeze them. Then you can take them out and grill them or just cook them in a pan on high heat. Doesn’t take more than a few minutes to cook since the meat is thinly sliced. Goes great with some rice and kimchi!

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Midnight snack

This was bound to be featured sooner or later. The base of the college student food pyramid is ramen noodles. You hear all the time that they’re bad for you, but the noodles are just carbohydrates and some fat. It’s all the sodium and preservatives in the flavoring packet that’s bad for your health. I like using ramen noodles because they cook (~2-3mins) so quickly compared to other noodles (>10mins). I barely use the flavoring packet that comes in the package. Usually, I will drain the noodles and toss them with a teaspoon of soy sauce and garlic or onion oil. Sometimes I’ll use half the flavoring packet, but put in leftover meats, frozen vegetables, eggs, or fish balls in the soup.

This particular post is something I recently improvised. I’ve started incorporating dark soy sauce in my food to experiment. I’ve replaced light soy sauce with dark or used a blend of light and dark in my dishes and you can taste the difference. It’s thicker and sweeter than light soy due to is composition of molasses. When you cook it, the flavor develops more. You also don’t get as much of that strong umami taste as with light soy. It doesn’t taste very good when I tried to use it as a dipping sauce.

Throw this away, you don’t need this.
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After boiling the noodles and dumplings, drain them, and stir fry them in a pan with some oil. (If you look close enough, you can see that I broke the skin off one of the dumplings and the filling came out.)
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Add some dark soy sauce. It adds a nice color to dishes like bland ramen noodles. Light soy sauce doesn’t cut it. I took out the noodles after a minute and left the dumplings in to crisp them up.
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Garnish with chives.
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