Monday, June 1, 2009

Coconut Shrimp With Coconut-Cilantro Rice And Rainy Days

Photobucket When it rains, it pours. Literally.

These past couple of weeks has been rainy down here in my neck of the woods. The southern part of the Sunshine State of Florida momentarily became gray and gloomy. Summer officially started, not with sweltering heat but rather, with a drenching downpour. Even as I write, outside dark clouds are beginning to gather and the day has started to turn dreary.

But, I am not complaining. For the most part, to me the rain has been a good respite to the otherwise hot and humid temperature in this part of the world. Our lakes were fast evaporating, the grounds were so dry and fires have ravaged our forests. So I say, it’s about time that we welcome heaven’s blessings, albeit wet. All I’m praying is that may these rainy days be NOT an indication of how the hurricane season would be like in the coming months (saying this with crossed fingers). Lord knows, the last thing we need in these challenging economic times is a catastrophic disaster in the likes of Hurricane Katrina. God forbid.

Isn’t it funny how circumstances in our lives happen to match the weather sometimes? That’s just what happened with me. This past week had likewise been somewhat emotionally cloudy and dismal due to a death in the family.

A dear cousin of mine, Nok, as he is fondly called, passed away. He was in his mid 40’s.

Nok and I grew up together; we were quite close. When my own mother fell ill with breast cancer, he was there for us. He stepped in for me as I couldn’t be physically in the Philippines as much as I'd like to, being that I now reside in the U.S. He drove my parents to the doctors every week for my mother’s appointments, rounds of chemo and radiation sessions. Ironically, the day my mother passed away on 2007, was also the day Nok was admitted to the hospital. That was the day we discovered that he had failing kidneys; the same day he started his weekly dialysis.

Unfortunately, Nok’s health deteriorated slowly ever since until he took his last breath on Sunday, May 31st.

Dealing with death of a loved one has always been difficult, no matter the manner and time of their demise -- this and added to the fact that Nok has been the 4th of a series of deaths that occurred in my family this past 3 yrs. Among these deaths was that of Nok’s younger brother, who passed away just last year. So you can understand how much of a blow this is to our family.

In memory of Nok, I’d like to dedicate this dish to my dear cousin, who loved life and food. Nok, though your presence will be sorely missed by all who love you, I am sure that you are in a better place now where pain and suffering do not exist anymore. Nok, thank you with all my heart for all that you have been to me and my family. May you rest in peace.

With that said, I'd like to share with you this Coconut Shrimp which I made with Cynthia's Coconut-Cilantro rice (of Tastes Like Home). This was made a while ago, but I've never gotten around to posting it. I don't know what got into me that night but I just was on a coconut mood.

To be honest, when I first got to the U.S. and tasted coconut shrimp, I did not like it. Uh-oh. Back in the Philippines, I grew up on shrimps simply prepared by steaming them with garlic, gingeroot, salt, pepper and vinegar (and sometimes with a touch of lime soda). However, Mr. J took me to Island Breeze one day - a restaurant that serves Jamaican food - and we had the coconut shrimp served with a spicy honey-mustard dip as appetizers. That was my point of no return. I became a convert. I fell in love with the dish at that moment. And the sauce. Oh, the sauce.... That's it, it must have been the sauce!

Anyhow, after that night, I promised myself that I have to try and re-create the dish, and the sauce. But while making the coconut shrimp, I had a big Aha! moment. I remembered Cythia's Coconut Cilantro rice. Why not give it a try? And I did. I'm so happy that I did. Cynthia, your rice rocks! This was very good, and I thought, it was the perfect pair for the shrimp. Thank you very much.

We had such a wonderful meal, I just wish we were having it at a restaurant by the beach. :o)

This dish is also my entry to Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S) Sunday - Pearly Shells
. La.Pi.S is a weekly food thematic event. If you want to know more, check it out a here.

For the Coconut-Cilantro Rice recipe, I will not be posting it here in deference to Cynthia. If you want a copy of the recipe, pls. go here . Drop a note to Cynthia and I'm sure, she'll be glad to share it with you.

adapted from Cooking Light

18 unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
1 cup coconut milk (or butter milk if you don't have it)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beer
1 (7-ounce) package sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs ( I used Panko breadcrumbs)
Peanut oil (I used canola)

Peel shrimp, leaving tails on. Butterfly shrimp by making a deep slit down the back of each from the large end to the tail, cutting to, but not through, inside curve of shrimp.

Stir together coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Drain shrimp from mixture (do not pat dry).

Whisk together flour and beer in a small bowl. Combine coconut and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip shrimp into beer batter; dredge in coconut mixture, pressing onto shrimp. Place shrimp on a baking sheet; freeze 20 minutes.

Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven, and heat to 350°. Cook shrimp, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve immediately with the Mustard Sauce.

Mustard Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup pineapple preserves
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard

Dash of hot sauce, if preferred

Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.