Shrimp with Coconut Coriander Broth

Let’s talk about pantry staples.

What’s up in your kitchen cabinets? You know, the things you need to have around for meals you make on the regular. Or stuff you like to have for when you’re in a pinch. (Ain’t no shame in some store-bought soup, people.)

For me olive oil, garlic and onions are the base of every great meal ever, so I must have those. A variety of grains, rice, pasta, nuts, seeds and beans are the norm too. Vegetable broth is excellent to have on-hand and a seriously decked out spice drawer keeps me feeling secure.

I  start to get uneasy if my canned tomato supply dips below 3 cans, I always have coconut milk for everything from curries to stirring in oatmeal, and frozen uncooked shrimp in the freezer is a great standby.

Having a well-stocked freezer and pantry is like an insurance policy on future good meals. When I’m tired and hungry or just feeling uninspired, the pantry is totally my secret weapon.

This dish is kind of my ideal pantry meal – it’s a bunch of my old cabinet-dwelling favorites thrown together and looking good.

The broth comes together easily – it’s packed with warming spices and rich coconut milk and is balanced out by light vegetable broth, fresh coriander and sweet prawns.

Shrimp with Coconut Coriander Broth
adapted from Food & Wine

I should mention coriander is cilantro and cilantro is coriander. Another Aus-American language discrepancy for the list!

– 2 tablespoons oil
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 1/2 a large red bell pepper (or 1 small one), finely diced.
– 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
– 2 tablespoons ground coriander
– 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
– 1 cup drained whole canned tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch/1-cm pieces
– 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or 1 15-oz./400-gram can)
– 1 cup vegetable broth
– 1/2 cup water
– salt
– 1 pound/1/2 kilogram large shrimp, shelled and de-veined
– 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander, with a little bit of the stems finely chopped

In a large pot or frying pan, heat the oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently – until golden, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the ground coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, broth, water, and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the pot and bring the broth to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped coriander. Serve immediately.


Roasted Shrimp with Easy Romesco Sauce

As soon as we dropped our bags at the hostel in Barcelona last year, I was overwhelmed and over-excited about the whole wide world of tapas at my disposal. It was my first time visiting the city and in preparation I read obsessively about great markets, tapas bars and delicacies. I also paid particularly close attention to an Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode all about Spain.

One thing Tony (yeah, I call him Tony) got to experience on his trip was some Spanish country barbecuing that involved sloppily drinking red wine from porrons (which I have been lucky enough to do at a bar in New York) and eating charred over-sized spring onions dipped in Romesco sauce. Way more than El Bulli, this is what I wanted my Spanish eating experience to be like.

When I saw these grilled-to-order greens on a menu I jumped at the chance to order them. Peeling off the blackened outer layer, dipping them generously in the sweet and nutty Romesco sauce, then throwing my head back to take a bite – I felt like I was living large.

In fact, I nearly made myself sick between gorging on those and fried peppers that first night. No biggie. That’s what I was there for.

Romesco sauce is excellent with seafood, chicken, eggs, as a dip for crackers and vegetables and as a spread on sandwiches. My easy version isn’t totally traditional, but the basics are there.

The roasted garlic shrimp below can also be tossed with pasta, chilli, olive oil and lemon, with rice and chopped roasted scallions, or over a lightly dressed mixed green salad. For this dish, I roasted some spring onions with my shrimp to take me back to Barca.

Garlic Roasted Shrimp
– 1 lb./1/2 kilo uncooked deveined shrimp
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1-2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C. Toss shrimp with olive oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper.

Spread the seasoned shrimp out on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes – flipping the shrimp once after about 5 minutes cooking- until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.

Easy Romesco Sauce
3 whole roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1/3 raw almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch chili flakes
salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium pan over the medium-low heat. once warm, add paprika, chili flakes and almonds. Toast almonds in seasoned oil for about 5 minutes until fragrant. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Place roasted red peppers and garlic oil/almond mixture in a food processor and process until finely chopped and nearly smooth in consistency, adding additional olive oil if necessary. I like to keep mine a little chunkier, to get those toothsome bites of almonds.