Chinese Walnut Shrimp

We recently got back from a trip from the gulf. It was a trip that was long overdue. We had lots of rest and relaxation, as well as lots of great seafood. The food down there was something I could never get sick of, especially the shrimp. Since we have been back home for a couple of weeks, that shrimp was still on my mind. So as I normally do, I began purging items from our freezer and noticed a big bag of whole shrimp. I was stoked to say the least and knew exactly what I was going to make with them. Chinese walnut shrimp!

I can’t say this would be a dish that I would order at a Chinese restaurant but one I know that my wife loves and has talked about in the past. It was time for me to step up and impress my wife with this simple, and really tasting Chinese walnut shrimp. The kicker is the sauce, and trust me you will love it.

Chinese Walnut Shrimp Recipe
Chinese Walnut Shrimp Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the walnuts:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for the shrimp:

  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • splash of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup Japanese mayonnaise or your favorite
  • 1 cup of fine corn meal or cornstarch
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • cooked jasmine rice

The oil that will be used to crisp up the walnuts will be reused for the shrimp, so don’t discard it.

You will want to start by heating your oil on medium heat.  As the oil heats, go ahead and make a simple syrup. Heat another small pot on medium heat and add the water and sugar.  Bring that to a simmer, then remove it from the heat. The oil should be heated now.

Add the walnuts to the oil and cook them for a few minutes. Just be careful as you do not want to burn them. After a few minutes, remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil and season with salt.

Once the walnuts are strained, add them to the simple syrup and and give that a good stir, coating all of the walnuts. Add them to a parchment paper lined tray, and try to keep them from sticking together. Set aside.

Chinese Walnut Shrimp Ingredients
Chinese Walnut Shrimp Ingredients

Next, make your sauce. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, condensed milk, honey, and salt to a mixing bowl, and stir well. Set aside on the counter.

Now to the shrimp. Reheat the oil to about 350 degrees. During this time, add the shrimp to the cornmeal (or cornstarch), and toss them around to make sure they are full coated. Once the oil is heated, take a few shrimp, enough to not crowd the pan of oil, and shake off any excess cornmeal, and gently drop them into the oil. Cook the shrimp for only a few minutes as you want crispy, succulent shrimp.

Place the cooked shrimp in a mixing bowl, season with a bit of salt, and repeat this process until all shrimp are cooked.

Cook your broccoli in boiling water for about two minutes, then blanch them in cold water.  Strain and set aside.

Add the sauce to the bowl of shrimp and gently stir, coating all of the shrimp in that delicious sauce.

Now time to plate.

I like to add cooked rice to a bowl, pack it in, then flip the bowl over onto a large serving plate. Pour the shrimp over the rice, then garnish around the rice and shrimp the broccoli. Pour over the candied walnuts, and now you are in business!

My wife, who did not know I was making this dish was floored and fell in love with it. Real deal is what I think I heard her say, but regardless this had me sold. And that shrimp… oh yeah that shrimp was something to write about. I hope you enjoy!

Cacio e Pepe

Have you ever had, or made Cacio e Pepe? If not, you are missing out. Not only is it super easy to make during the week, but it is divine. Creamy, and peppery, this Roman dish with cheese, pasta, and black pepper. Lots of cheese and pepper. I was thinking, in particular of my wife and kids as they are pasta lovers. Me? If I am eating some type of pasta, I like it in Asian cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, I will take down lots of Italian food, but I don’t crave it as much as my wife and kids do.

Cacio e Pepe Recipe
Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Let’s get started on this super simple recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuncine), chose one and cook before al dente
  • 1/4 cup of salt, more to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of finely grated parmesan cheese, or pecorino romano (preferred)
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tbsp slightly course cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil to finish, optional

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the salt once boiling, then add in your pasta. Cook the pasta slightly before al dente, and then reserve a cup or so of the pasta water.

Next, have a skillet ready large enough to hold the pasta. Melt the butter, then add about a cup of the pasta water to the butter. Feel free to whisk this for a few seconds.

Cacio e Pepe Ingredients
Cacio e Pepe Ingredients

Add the cheese to the water and butter, and stir. Add a bit more water, maybe a quarter cup, and keep stirring. Add in the black pepper, and stir some more. Now add your pasta to the skillet.  Toss the pasta to evenly coat it with the cheese sauce.  If you see the pasta drying up a bit, add some more water. You want this pasta to be velvety, not lumpy.

Once you are satisfied, feel free to let it rain with more pepper and cheese and a good drizzle of olive oil.

This is one of those dishes my kids loved. It seemed like I blinked my eye and BOOM, gone. That’s always, always a great sign. Hope you enjoy!

Grilled Octopus Salad

After a quick lunch at one of my favorite taco joints in Milwaukee, I decided I would shop around. I was really only looking for some tortillas for my kids, and an avocado for my wife, but I decided I would browse. Browsing typically gets me into trouble when I am at a grocery store. Go figure. This time around I checked into the seafood section and found an octopus. I have been thinking of octopus for some time now and wanted my family to experience it. I grew up trying octopus from time to time, along with conch and snails. My parents were good like that so I figured I would make attempts to let my kids experience that as well. The first thing that came to mind was a grilled octopus salad, and that is what I stuck with.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

This octopus salad is not only really easy to make, but it is super refreshing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs octopus, rinsed and cleaned
  • 2 cloves of garlic, rough chop
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, optional
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with some salt, lemon, black peppercorn, and serrano chili. Place the octopus in the water and boil for 45 minutes.

Remove the octopus and place in a large boil and rinse it with cold water. Drain the water and then drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Let the octopus rest for about 30 minutes.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

Chop into large pieces and heat up your grill.

Once your grill is heated, place the octopus parts onto the grill, and cook for about 5 minutes, turning along the way. Your goal is to get some of that grill char onto the octopus.

After 5 minutes, remove the octopus from the grill and place into a large bowl. Add the remaining oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, onions, parsley and bell pepper. Give that a good toss and get ready to serve.

Grilled Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

I loved it. The texture of the octopus is spot on and the flavor from the great olive oil and lemon juice is super refreshing. Did my kids like it? Not sure but at least they tried! This grilled octopus salad would be really great during the summer months so I suspect I will return to that seafood aisle at my local Mexican grocery store and have them try it again. Have you tried octopus, and do you enjoy it?

Thai Curry Asparagus

I love coming up with new recipes, and this past weekend was one of those times. I particularly enjoy family dinners on Sundays. There is something about that day when we can all come together and enjoy a meal together. Granted it is extremely important for me to have everyone come together every day for dinner, but I realize that is not always possible with work schedules.  So as I have been trying to eat more healthy throughout the week, meaning for vegetables, I decided to come up with this lightly sauteed Thai curry asparagus.

I recently fell in love with this curry paste when I made Khao Poon and there was something about the sweetness that I fell in love with.

Thai Curry Asparagus Recipe
Thai Curry Asparagus Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz can sweet Thai Noodle paste
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, optional
  • 1 Thai chili, lightly bruised, optional
  • salt to taste

Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the Thai noodle paste and give that a good stir, cooking for a couple of minutes to waken all of the paste.

Next add in the water, kaffir lime leaves, salt, and chili. Give another good stir. Add in the asparagus, and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until your desired tenderness. I still like my asparagus with just a slight crunch. Next, just plate and serve.

The end result is a perfect vegetable dish with that sweet curry flavor. Serve alongside with some rice for a perfect side dish. I hope you enjoy!