Nothing is more comforting than those recipes prepared for us by a loved one. I speak often about spreading the love through cooking but I want to take a moment to share some of the love I experienced this past week. Wanting to escape the cold and visit a good friend, my BFF, Cathy and I went to see one of our favorites, Roberta, in Arizona. She was kind to invite us to share her winter home and explore the beauty of the desert. Our time was spent catching up, seeing the sites and of course much eating and drinking. We laughed, cried and jaw dropped over natures gifts and the area’s beautiful art. Never having spent time in the Southwest, it was all an adventure for me. We sampled many dishes as we dined at a variety of establishments and I was reminded that no matter where you travel, all cuisines are eclectic and fluid, influenced by those who have been before us and evolving as others come and add their touches.
The recipe I am featuring today really has nothing to do with the Southwest but I chose it because it is an example of how recipes evolve. This one began as a childhood favorite in Brazil and then traveled to the Western United States taking on the flavors of that area. Now I am making it in the Midwest and adjusting it to reflect what is most readily available here. If it makes it way to Arizona it will no doubt be embellished with a variety of chili peppers.
This is how it goes down.
COCONUT MILK SHRIMP OR SALMON Serves 4
Recipe by Perlla Fonvielle
Perlla says she grew up eating this dish in northeast Brazil. I changed it up a bit by sometimes substituting salmon for shrimp. Both versions are delicious.
2T vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, cut into match sticks
1t red chile flakes
1 (15 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
Sea salt to taste
1 medium tomato, chopped
1lb. medium (26-30/lb) shrimp, shelled and deveined (or equivalent of salmon, skinned and cubed)
Steamed rice (I used 1 c raw Jasmine rice)
½ c cilantro, chopped
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrot and chile flakes until onion is softened and translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in coconut milk. Cook until mixture is simmering.
- Add tomato and shrimp (or salmon) and cook until shrimp are pink or salmon is cooked, about 2 minutes.
- Spoon mixture over rice and garnish with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over the top.
I first made this easy recipe with shrimp and fell in love. The sweetness of the shrimp and coconut milk pair beautifully with the heat of the red pepper flakes. The carrots give it crunch and the tomato adds yet another texture. I then decided to try it substituting salmon and found it to be quite delicious as well. Instead of using a medium tomato I used a handful of grape tomatoes cut in half. I find them to have much more flavor in winter when tomatoes are not growing locally. I served this over steamed Jasmine rice as I like its aromatic quality and thought it would be complimented by the coconut milk. You could really use any kind of rice that pleases you. The lime may seem like an afterthought but I think the bit of acidity it adds is needed to offset the sweetness. Remember it is all about balance.
And so it goes, recipes are shared and developed as the chef tweaks it to his or her liking and adds the ingredients found locally. It is an endless cycle of change that results. As said so eloquently by Edward Espe Brown,
“A recipe doesn’t belong to anyone. Given to me, I give it to you. Only a guide, only a skeletal framework. You must fill in the flesh according to your nature and desire. Your life, your love will bring these words into full creation. This cannot be taught. You already know. So please cook, love, feel, create.”
I leave you with those words and urge you to spend time with those that tug your heart-strings and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Until next time, I send love from my kitchen to yours. Stay warm and safe. Jeanne