When a country labels one of its culinary creations Aromatic Black Tiger Shrimp with Fresh Garden Vegetables, the kitchen had better draw people with enticing scents. Fortunately, today’s entry fulfils that mission, and then some. Actually, calling the aroma “enticing” understates its appeal. “Intoxicating” would be more accurate.
Consider what goes into the sauce that bastes the shellfish and coats the vegetables. There’s cilantro, ginger, lime leaves and garlic. Lots of garlic. Wonderful, of course, though this only sets the stage for the main attraction, lemongrass. More than the taste that goes into most Southeast Asian creations, today’s preparation uses two entire stalks of the citrus-coarsed grass. That’s two feet of lemony exuberance.
A nation’s dishes celebrate its character, and Aromatic Shrimp speaks vividly of Cambodia. The bright array of ingredients gives this dish a heady, floral lift that tempts the nose and hints at what soon will delight the taste buds. The site for the International Institute of Medicine and Science featured the recipe, and the preparation has enough potential to shine brilliantly, even on an NGO page. Obviously, this dish inspires even the bureaucrats.
It’s easy to see why. There’s the incredible sauce, of course, and, as you would expect from something advertising the fact, the garden is represented here in abundance. Asparagus, peppers and cilantro all burst forth. It’s an explosion of greenery. Freshness in color, aroma and taste.
The scent, however, is what makes this creation extraordinary. It’s Cambodia engaging all the senses.
Aromatic Black Tiger Shrimp with Garden Vegetables
- 1 pound shrimp, shelled a deveined
- 1/2 cup minced lemongrass
- 1/2 cup minced cilantro stems
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon kaffir lime leaves, deveined
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
- 1 cubanelle pepper, sliced diagonally into one-inch strips
- 6 ounces asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 6 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into diagonal one-inch strips
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (*1)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (*2)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup chicken stock
Add cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, coriander seeds, garlic, kaffir lime leaves and water. Blend until you have a smooth paste and set it aside.
In a wok over high heat, add two tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the paste you set aside earlier. Stir constantly and cook for two minutes until the mixture’s scent is prominent. Transfer the cooked paste to a bowl.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok. Add the shrimp and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add the sliced vegetables and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the cooked paste, chicken stock, salt, sugar and tamarind pulp, and stir fry for two minutes.
Plate, and garnish with cilantro.
1 – Peanut oil works well with this, as it does with most East Asian dishes.
2 – Use palm sugar, if you have it. If not, brown sugar is good too. Granulated sugar is alright if you have neither palm nor brown sugars.