I've always wanted to visit China: walk on the Great Wall, see the Terra Cotta Soldiers, follow the Silk Road, get to know, albeit briefly, a culture so different from my own.
Then I start to think about the food. I love our Westernized version of Chinese food but, sadly, I must admit I am not a very adventuresome diner.
Oh, with the help of a glass of wine or two, I have
enjoyed eaten sweetbreads, haggis, tongue, tripe, horse, and many, many things my family would never even consider eating.
It would take more than a bit of wine before I could tuck into monkey testicles. Or panther penises. Or any species eyeballs. Or even the more socially acceptable deep-fried scorpions and silk-worm cocoons.
Yes, I know that the majority of people in China do not eat these things on a regular basis – or ever. I also know that, were I there, said items would find there way to my table.
I'll place the blame for my delicate sensibilities squarely on my mother (Sigmund would be pleased). She was a picky eater and trained her family well.
A well-traveled, worldly, relative brought a large bowl of iced shrimp to a family gathering when I was a child (remember, we lived in Wisconsin).
He thought he was bringing a rare treat.
My mother said they looked like grub worms and that was that.
Had I not been introduced to shrimp and scallops in their normal, unrecognizable, beer-battered Midwestern form, served with a heaping bowl of pickle-infused tartar sauce, I probably would never have eaten one. Once I've eaten something in one form, and enjoyed it, I can branch out to other preparations.
And then there are tomatoes. My mother tells the story (often, whenever anyone mentions tomatoes, actually) that when she was young she didn't like tomatoes. Her mother made her eat them and, eventually, she learned to like them. Thus, she maintains, you (meaning, her children) can learn to like anything.
My mother now claims to like tomatoes. She peels them, slices them, sprinkles them with lots of sugar, salt and pepper, then smothers them in Wishbone French Dressing.
I maintain that not only did my mother NOT learn to like tomatoes, she still doesn't like tomatoes ….nor does she have any idea what one tastes like.
For some reason she didn't feel it necessary to learn to like the shrimp.
My entry this week for Presto Pasta Nights, founded and hosted by the lovely Ruth of Once Upon A Feast has shrimp in it.
Pasta with Shrimp (Prawn) and Avocado Sauce
12 oz large shrimp (if cleaned, 16oz if not) (350 gr cleaned prawns)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
Fresh pasta – I use 8oz (250 gr) of fettuccine
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbs tarragon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs chopped fresh chives.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Clean shrimp if necessary. If not, rinse and drain. Mix chili powder, garlic, lemon and olive oil in a bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cut avocado and remove pit. Scoop it out of the shell and put it into your blender. Add chicken stock and vinegar and puree until smooth. Add oil and puree just until blended, then add milk and puree a few seconds more. Cook shrimp in a grill pan on the barbecue grill over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes, until they start to curl and turn opaque. You could also sauté in a skillet in another tablespoon of olive oil. Either way, when done remove. It's not necessary to have them hot for this dish. When pasta is done drain and rinse lightly with cool water. Put into a large bowl and add avocado sauce, shrimp and chives. Mix gently and serve.
This is based on a recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Pasta Collection.
The avocado makes a wonderful, creamy sauce for the pasta with only the
'good' fat. Grilling the shrimp adds another dimension to the dish,
but you could just poach them quickly in a skillet in a 1/2 inch of
water with a bit of lemon and pepper or use pre-cooked.
Be sure to stop by Once Upon A Feast on Friday to drool over all of the wonderful pasta dishes
I wonder if I put sugar, salt, pepper and French Dressing on
Cilantro I would learn to like it? Might have to add Tabasco Sauce….