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Shrimply delicious

EAT’S EASY - Ernest Reynoso Gala () - April 19, 2012 - 12:00am

I think somebody should come up with a way to breed a very large shrimp. That way, you could ride him, then, after you’re camped at night, you could eat him. How about it, Science?

Jack Handey, American humorist

At a social gathering among friends, my Brent School classmate stated that he loves seafood! When asked why he blurted those words, he promptly replied, “I love all the food that I see!” thus getting us to laugh out loud and give me the inspiration for my next article.

Yes, we love seafood and one of my all-time favorites is shrimp. As in the movie Forrest Gump, there are endless possibilities to preparing and serving shrimp. This crustacean is found all over the world and varies in color from white to yellow, gray, brown, and pink. Its white meat and sweet flavor make it popular, and in the United States it is sold according to count or the number of pieces in two pounds (roughly a kilo). Ten to a kilo or less is colossal, 11 to 15 is jumbo, 16 to 20 is extra-large, 21 to 30 is large, and anything above is considered medium or small. Every three-fourths kilo of shell-on shrimp will yield one-half pound of peeled or shelled shrimp. The larger size of shrimp is called a prawn and both varieties have 10 legs.

Chefs call raw or uncooked shrimp “green shrimps” and, depending on the style of cooking, will cook shrimps with or without the shell. A curve-bladed serrated-tip knife called a “shrimp deveiner” is sometimes used to remove the shell and the intestinal vein on the backside of the shrimp. Chefs believe that leaving the vein in will make it bitter to the palate, thus altering the flavor and making the shrimp curl, thus losing its shape. The head of a fresh shrimp will remain intact on the body, its texture should be firm but not too hard, and it has a slightly curved shape. Tiny dried shrimps locally known as hibi are often used in Asian dishes for its salty taste. It is soaked and re-hydrated in water for 10 minutes to dampen the salt intensity, then drained before using. For grilled, barbecued or deep-fried shrimps, the tail is left intact and serves as a handle for it to be picked up and eaten. Shrimps stored in glass jars are used for decorative purposes in many Scandinavian countries. The word “scampi” is Italian for small lobster or shrimp. In my travels through Calabria, Italy, I discovered that the Italian version of Spanish gambas is scampi fritti, or pan-fried shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and parsley without tomato and breadcrumbs. Parsley is often added to seafood dishes to offset the “sea flavor and scent.” Fresh dill or basil can be also be used in place of parsley.

When cooking it very important to not to overcook it because the texture becomes tough and elastic. Whether boiled or pan-fried, once the color has changed to pink and it curls slightly, it is ready, usually not exceeding more than two minutes. Adding sauce first before cooking is done to prevent the meat from overcooking and getting rubbery. Very important tip: if you want your one kilo of shrimp to be firm and deep orange in color, put them in a colander with a bowl underneath. Soak them in 1cup water mixed with 1 tsp. white “lihia” — wood lye — for 10 minutes. Drain. Cook by steaming, boiling or frying. Lihia is available in the vegetable section of markets and is used for cuchinta and pichi-pichi(sweet Filipino delicacies).  

CHILI SHRIMPS

1) Prepare: 1/2 kilo shrimp or prawns with head and shell intact, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup onion, 1 stalk lemongrass (white portion finely chopped), 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1/4 cup lime juice (dayap), 1 cup tomato sauce.

2) Heat oil in a wok. Add onions and cook 2 minutes. Add lemongrass and chili powder. Stir 2 minutes. Then add tomato sauce, sugar, salt, and limejuice. Let boil. Add shrimp or prawns. Cook two minutes more. Put on a plate with sauce.

LUMPIA/PINSEC FRITO FILLING

Serves 10

1/4 cup ground pork

1/4 cup violet onions

1/4 cup carrots, chopped

1/4 cup spring onions, chopped

1/4 cup sweet ham

2 tbsps. soaked, drained, then chopped Chinese mushrooms

1/4 cup peeled and coarsely chopped shrimps

1 egg

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. rock salt

1 tsp. pepper to taste

1/3 cup AA Cassava starch (located in supermarkets beside cornstarch. It makes your filling firmer and Asian sauces thicker for a longer period of time; we used this in the Hong Kong schools I attended)

20 pieces lumpia wrapper

Procedure:

1. Spread 2 tbsps. filling on upper edge of lumpia. Roll the lumpia wrapper halfway as tightly as you can (leave sides open). Brush or use hands to spread 2 egg whites on bottom half of lumpia. Roll well, deep-fry, drain, then cut diagonally into pieces. 

SWEET-SOUR SAUCE

1/2 cup catsup

5 tbsps. plus 1 tsp. sugar

3/4 cup vinegar

2 cups water

2 tbsps. cassava starch

2 tbsps. minced white onion

1 tsp. sesame oil

Procedure:

1) Get 20 pieces lumpia wrapper.

2) Mix and put a little filling in the wrapper.

3) Form into a triangle, seal edges with 1 tsp. AA cassava starch mixed with 1/2 cup water.

4) For the sauce, mix all ingredients in a saucepan until boiling.

* * *

For recipes and a schedule of workshops for children and adults, visit www.sylviareynosogala.com or www.facebook.com/Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary or call 671-4489 or 98.

BRENT SCHOOL CUP FORREST GUMP GALA CULINARY HONG KONG JACK HANDEY SHRIMP SHRIMPS SYLVIA REYNOSO UNITED STATES
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