spice is the variety of life…

One word often used to describe me is intense. Whatever I do, I tend to do it to the extreme. For the most part, this intensity has served me well; other times, not so good.

This can be said about my cooking style as well. It is quite common for my food to have big, bold flavors–definitely not shy. I really think our personalities are reflected in what we cook. And with me, that couldn’t be any more true.

Whenever I cook or develop a recipe, I pick out one or two flavors that I want to highlight. Sometimes these differing tastes complement each other; sometimes they act as the perfect counterpoint. Although I am proud to be loud, I am very capable of making dishes with subtle flavors. Of course, the subtleness can be “enhanced”, which I often do.

I like to think of a dish as a movie: you have your star and several supporting actors. As with any great films, there are one or two scene-stealers that makes it all the more memorable. And it’s these shining stars that get my spotlight.

Take my Sinister Shrimp, for instance. This is my take on the classic Shrimp Fra Diavolo. Literally meaning “brother devil,” fra diavolo is long-time image of the devil disguised as a monk. The innocent-looking shrimp on a plate belies its true fiery nature. Already a great dish as it is, to quote Mr. Lagasse, I like to “kick it up a notch.” Or two.

My version is as incendiary as the original, with flavors intensified. The main stars, the shrimp and the peppers, are well supported by the humble lime and cilantro. At first bite, you definitely will taste the heat. But shortly after, the brightness and sweetness of the lime, and the citrus overtones of the cilantro will immediately hit your mouth. Pow! You never knew what hit you…

Thai chilis provide the main source of the fire, while red pepper flakes add more depth. A butter and white wine reduction brings all the flavors together. If like me, you would prefer a little more heat, a drizzling of Chinese hot chili oil will definitely do the trick!

It is great as a first course served with baguette slices (to sop up the glorious sauce) or tossed in pasta. Either way you have, there’ll be a party in your mouth.

.Sinister Shrimp

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