Thursday, April 16, 2009

Doings of this weekend past...I

It all started with the Meandering - no - the "Mandarin Shrimp". We had intended to get good ole noodles to eat along, but managed to get only spaghetti. That's Italian, strictly speaking, but what is one to do when you have landed in a quirky grocery place (naming no names - but it's listed on the stock exchange and them brothers they don't get along so good) which presumes to stock lasagna and spaghetti and herbs and whatnot, but no good ole noodles.

The long and short (nope not talking of positions now) of it is that we had a little less than half the packet left over, which I thought would make up a genuine Italian adventure. With that in mind I scoured a whole lot of websites (naming no names and giving no references) until I came across -
taa...daaa.... "Spaghetti Carbonara".

I was delighted at all the bacon and cheese, until conscience smote a bit and i did go looking for something low on the fats ..and turned up "lean meat balls and spaghetti". Now..hmmm..believe it or not we like Italian cuisine, but we don't like it with tomato in it....paradoxical as that may sound. So, the next logical thing to do was to google meat balls without tomatoes. Swedish meat balls anyone? It floats around in fresh cream, which sent me running right back to the Carbonara. (But the Swedish stuff will eventually find it's way in the Sashimi-Sushi kitchen rest be assured)

The Carbonara? nothing much.. :-) no really, nothing much at all. Boil the pasta in what i call my "pasta pot", you may boil it in whatever it is that you call your pasta pot. And then drain off the water when done. But ..wait...not all of it, save some, it will be needed later.

Fry the bacon in a wee bit o' oil. You think that's too fatty? It gets better. We need to blot out the fat from the fried bacon on paper towels or not on your palette, that would be icky.

But don't drain off all of the fat..u save some of it too to saute onions in. Conscience pricking yet? If not, then add the cooked pasta in it, "the saved from draining off all" pasta water and begin mixing like crazy. The pasta needs to have a uniform texture, you see.

In the mean time, what you should have ready on hand, is a mixture of eggs(beaten to death), grated cheese drowned in mercilessly and some pepper and salt to add spice to the afterlife. This mixture is to be poured over the cooking pasta.

If you thought the mixing earlier was crazy, now it goes totally wild. If you don't get wild enough, you end up with little clumps of cheesy omelet on your hands instead of the uniformly coated spaghetti. I did get something pretty uniform and with only a very few clumpy bits, but it was a close thing! Phew! Before getting the spaghetti off the stove, don't forget to throw in the bacon pieces and mix some more.

You're ready to eat at this point after shedding a few tears at the state of your pasta pot. The pasta was a bit aggressive I guess, no doubt on account of where it used to dwell! Look -

Did I mention that we had to buy further spaghetti 'cos the left over was not enough for our collective appetite? Also that we couldn't quite finish off the new packet? So, basically we're back where we started. And now, those Swedish meatballs are going to make an appearance..sooner than later.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jharkhand Shrimps in Mandarin Curry

The idea originated in Ranchi. Mommie-in-law got hold of these huge, extremely well fed prawns (nope I didn't particularly inquire into what they were feeding on) and made them Chinese style. Naturally, when I found matching sized ones (in Bangalore) I couldn't help but try to replicate the Jharkand Mandarin curry, though technically mine spoke Kannada.

We had our whole evening and extended evening planned around the shrimps - Sushi and I. First, there was to be vodka/beer for him and her. Beer we stuck to the standard, but replaced Smirnoff with Fuel. I have gone about telling folks since then that Fuel is "much much smoother", but honestly, I just found the bottle really cool - shaped like a 3D trapezoid and with tape measure markings down the front. 'Course there was "chakna" to go with the drinks in the shape of mutton Kebabs..frozen and only needing a couple of minutes in the microwave.

At this point, the shrimps were to make their entry, we planned on cleaning and putting them to marinate "whilst" we polished off our appetizers and drinks. We had counted without the newly purchased game of Lexicon though, which we thought it might be a good idea to try out in this whole party for two scene.

See, Sushi and I can't play any game online or offline without sledging each other to the point of fisticuffs..and that is where the whole dinner schedule went awry. Picture this, we are a vodka and beer down each, he's questioning the existence of a word called "lug" and I'm challenging him to officially challenge it and suddenly our tummies give a tiny rumble each in unison.

That's when we decide the time was ripe to give the prawns their bath. A tip though, it aint enuf to simply scrub them well and wash 'em ..u must pull out the black nerve that runs down where their spine should have been. If not, you get this strange crunching sound under your teeth when devouring, which is quite unsettling.

Then comes the marination, simply slather them in lots of g-g paste and vinegar and salt and let them be for the next half an hour or so and return to your game of lexicon.

10 p.m.
We play on. I am ready to clinch it with "SNOB" and am holding my cards with barely suppressed glee. That's when he finishes it with "US". Aaaarrrghhhhh!

10:45 p.m.
It's past the time strictly needed for marination, but we have resolved our Lexicon differences. We are focused on the task at hand - to coat the shrimps in a layer of egg. For that, you need to knock their shells off taking care to not let the white and yellow run away. A good plan would be to have a little bowl in position before you set about de-shelling the eggs. The you swirl the whole thing around with a fork so the yellow is indistinguishable from the white. After that you let the shrimps swim in it for a bit before taking them out and frying them in a pan. The remaining egg may be poured over the frying prawns, doesn't hurt the dish but adds to the thickness of the curry...mandarin curry.

At this point, you should have a lot of garlic, ginger, green chili chopped and ready to be thrown into any empty utensil that happens to be standing around. Okay..lemme slow down a bit. I am now talking of making the curry. For that you grab a utensil - pot/pan/ whatever..remember, time's getting on? Well, then you put the pot/pan/whatever on fire (on the stove), pour in a wee bit o' oil (butter might be nice too if you are in a reckless mood), then throw in the afore-mentioned garlic-ginger-chili. When it starts to grow golden (it does by the time you have located the sauces), you pour in some soya sauce, and ketchup and..I donno...Worcestershire ..more the merrier, that's the point. Then it might be necessary to dilute with some water, pinch of sugar, some salt, the pot/pan/whatever starts bubbling a bit and you are done ..well almost. This is where you put in the fried shrimps into the curry...and yeah, now you are done.

My curry looks a bit translucent, where mommie-in-law's had been on the opaque side and pinkish in colour. I suspect that might have been because she used g-g paste instead of the chopped g-g + chili. And the pink might have been some play with the ketchup.
Anyway, if you check the time stamp on the pic below, you'd know why we don't have a detailed analysis of the discrepancies.

Yep! we are missing soup bowls.