television was not particularly something we grew up with in my family. generally, the rule was that we were given 30 minutes of Public Television kid’s programming per day; weekdays only, not counting the occasional Saturday when my dad would want to watch Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and my mom would make waffles for us. which really, i mean that kind of Saturday morning is tough to beat. but PBS shows were great when i was a kid! – Reading Rainbow, or 3, 2, 1 Contact… especially Bill Nye the Science Guy! but i didn’t come into adulthood with the same fond memories of cartoons and tv shows that most of my peers did.
for example: you know how the Fresh Prince raps about/moves into “a place called Bell Aire”? i never saw the show until reruns on Nick at Nite during my 5:00am treadmill dates at the gym in my early 20s. i chuckled over the Bell Aire thing because the name “Bell Aire” had always seemed trashy to me. sidled up alongside my family’s farm was mobile home park called Bell Aire. since we moved to that house when i was young, the next-door dilapidation was my first impression of a Bell Aire. it did not have the rich, fancy connotations to me that it might to you if you grew up with the show. i thought about this yesterday while we listened to Will Smith’s Greatest Hits (all of which i adore). it made me think of run-down mobile homes, stray cats, broken-down cars, and how the nearby tennants would occasionally toss their garbage over the fence into our horse pasture. hmmmmm.
what i’m saying is; the producers of Fresh Prince really should have named that ritzy neighborhood something different!
do you have weird things from your childhood that put you at odds with the memories of your peers?
speaking of Bill Nye the Science Guy, imagine my surprise when the older me learned that Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was not originally written about weather patterns and air pressure! and that the Spin Doctors hadn’t written a song called Two Eyeballs. fantastic. in every way, fantastic.
so here is a really awesome dinner. i have been making this soup ever since receiving my wonderful Martha Stewart Everyday Food cookbook as a wedding gift several years ago — and making it often. it’s an amazing dish, with noodles of egg pasta and of carrots spinning their way through a broth rich with coconut milk and chiles, with juicy shrimp in every bite, brightened by a squeeze of fresh lime. it’s warming and refreshing and so full of the sweet, spicy and salty flavor combinations that we love in Asian-inspired cooking.
i love it’s simplicity of being made all together in a single pot — fewer dishes than you’ll ever have to wash! and cooking the noodles (and their carrot “noodle” counterparts) in the broth itself infuses them with extra flavor. and so easy!
after making this for a few years, falling more in love with Asian recipes and working on becoming more proficient at those techniques, i finally found what was missing from this recipe: fish sauce. obviously! i used to taste the soup and feel like something was missing, so i kept adding more salt, or more lime. citrus or some kind of acidity is a great way to bring brightness and flavor to a dish without just adding more salt… but still, something was missing that i couldn’t put my finger on. fish sauce brings that wonderful umami, and together with a dash of soy sauce, this soup is complete, balanced and pleasing. it’s basically perfect! you’re welcome. no seriously, this is all Martha. but i’ve made it a touch tastier for you here :) come home from a long day at work this week and fill up on this dinner, ready in minutes. enjoy!
coconut shrimp soupserves 6 adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food i can’t recommend enough getting yourself a mandoline slicer — very inexpensive for the name-brand model from Amazon, and so useful and versatile! my knife skills are lacking to produce long, slender cuts of carrots for this soup, but my mandoline slicer made beautiful spaghetti-like threads of carrots so easily in about 60 seconds. just please, watch your fingers. also, i advise against using “lite” coconut milk — it doesnt save that much on fat or calories, yet sacrifices a lot of flavor. another tip — don’t shake your can of coconut milk. use it’s separation to your advantage! details below.
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
- 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 Thai chiles, minced — or 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (more or less of either depending on your heat preference; these amounts produce a low heat factor)
- 3 to 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into long juliennes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 – 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- splash of soy sauce
- 4 ounces angel-hair or other thin egg noodles
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- the juice of two limes
- coarse salt
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
first, use a mortar and pestle to smash the ginger, garlic and chiles or red pepper flakes together to release their fragrances and bring them to their best potential. if you dont have a mortar and pestle, use the broad side of your knife to smash them into almost a paste on your cutting board.
use a spoon or spatula to scoop the coconut cream that’s risen to the top of the can of coconut milk, leaving the coconut water behind. scoop the cream, which will be a soft solid, into a large saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. add ginger, garlic, and chiles or pepper flakes, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. add the carrots, the remaining coconut water from the can, and 3 cups of water. make a slurry with the cornstarch and a tablespoon or two of water in a small bowl; stir and add to pot, along with fish sauce and soy sauce. increase heat to high and bring everything to a boil.
once boiling, break pasta in half and add to soup. maintain a gentle boil at medium heat for another 3 – 4 minutes, until pasta is nearly cooked al dente (about a minute undercooked). then add shrimp and cook until opaque, stirring; this should take just about 60 seconds or so for the shrimp to be cooked and ready.
remove from heat and stir in lime juice; taste and season with more fish sauce or salt, if needed. serve garnished with sliced scallions.