Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Garlic Shrimp, Fennel Salad, Poached Baby Bok Choy, and Plum Sauce

Mostly based on a recipe from Cafe Boulud Cookbook, this main course salad turned out delicious. I used Argentinean Red Shrimp, which were very good, but any large shrimp or prawns will do. Really, you could substitute fresh Dungeness crab or lobster as well and you would still have an amazing dish.

I find that Daniel Boulud regularly over-complicates recipes, and this is no exception. I'm going to share with you a less precise method for this dish--use your judgement on quantities of things like garlic and olive oil. No need to waste time measuring too precisely for a dish like this, in my mind. Try serving it at a luncheon or, in smaller portions, to start an Asian-inspired meal.

Shrimp and Fennel Salad with Plum Sauce

half a fennel bulb
olive oil
bok choy
2 plums
red wine vinegar
sesame oil

Fennel Salad: Using a Benriner or Mandoline, shave half a bulb of fennel. If you don't have a mandoline, you can just cut very thin slices with a sharp knife, but it takes a lot longer. Toss the fennel with some chopped cilantro, the juice of half a lime (or a whole one, if it's not very juicy), some olive oil, and salt and pepper. Set the fennel aside while you prepare the other parts of this salad.

Bok Choy: Wash some baby bok choy, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and drop the bok choy in. Poach for about 4 minutes, or until they are fully cooked. Remove, rinse with cold water, cut into quarters, and set aside.

Plum Sauce: Take two ripe plums, pit them, and then squish them with your fingers into a small saucepan. Add a few thin slices of ginger, some cilantro, a bit of garlic, a tablespoon or red wine vinegar, a couple tablespoons of water, a splash of grenadine (or sugar, if you don't have grenadine), and some salt and pepper. Bring everything to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender, and blend for 30 seconds or until very smooth. Strain through a (not too fine) strainer, pushing as much through as possible. Set aside.

Shrimp: Peel and devein the shrimp (keep the shells for making broth with if you like--watch for a recipe soon to come that uses shrimp shells!). Heat some olive oil and a bit of sesame oil over medium-high heat, toss in the shrimp and plenty of finely chopped garlic and ginger. Cook until barely done--they will be fully pink and opaque, but not yet curled up in a ball. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

Assemble the salad: Using the hot pan you cooked the shrimp in, reheat the bok choy. Place the shrimp in the middle of each serving plate, top with some fennel, surround with bok choy, and drizzle with plum sauce. Serve the extra sauce in a bowl at the table.

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