Upstaging the Shrimp


Not an easy thing to do, actually, as shellfish is a personal favorite.  However, as wonderful as the shrimp is in today’s attempt, the shitake mushrooms are even better.  By some degree.  In fact, the dish would be just as scrumptious, just as amazing, with no shrimp and a double serving of mushrooms.  Shocking, but true.

That’s not to disparage the shellfish, which is succulent, mild and flavorful.  It’s just that the mushrooms make an even greater claim to being ambrosia, food of the gods. Of course, shitakes are favored too, which is why the recipe for Shitake, Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir-Fry was flagged when it was spotlighted in the late Everyday Food magazine, November 2011 issue.

Back then, there was no way of knowing how special the mushrooms would be, else it wouldn’t have taken nearly a decade to discover their magnificence.  Surprisingly, not much trouble was taken to prepare them.  After being sautéed until tender in peanut oil, the shitakes are stir-fried with a little rice wine vinegar and soy sauce, infused with garlic and  grated ginger.

The Japanese must’ve had shitakes in mind when they coined the word umami to describe something sufficiently warming and savory to have a whole taste category of its own.  When you add soy sauce to the mushrooms, the umami is off the charts.  The theme is accented and is given greater depth when garlic and ginger add a bit of a tingle.  There’s a lingering sweetness as well, which the snow peas enhance.

As a matter of fact, here are some peas now, happy to oblige:Pea Sculpture

As mentioned, the shrimp is really nice too, and in any other dish, it’d be the main draw.  Just not here, where the mushrooms rise to the occasion.  To have both of them together, utterly magnificent.  Even if the shellfish finds itself in the unusual position of settling for the silver medal.

*****

Shitake, Shrimp, and Snow Pea Stir-Fry

  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (*1)
  • 1 pound shitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 ounces of snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 scallion greens, chopped

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger and red pepper flakes.  Set aside mixture.

In a wok set over medium-high flame, heat the oil until it shimmers.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until just tender, about five minutes.  Stir in the garlic mixture and cook for another minute.  Add the shrimp and snow peas and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp is opaque throughout, about four minutes.

Serve over cooked rice and garnish with scallion greens.

NOTES:

1 – As those who know are aware, I prefer to use peanut oil for Asian (or Asian-inspired) dishes.  This is just such a case.  In this particular instance, peanut oil adds a nice taste to the mushrooms too.

 

42 thoughts on “Upstaging the Shrimp

    1. Thank you, Angela! Glad you liked it.

      I was rather pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out; something I discovered only later, when I downloaded the image from the phone. When I snapped the picture initially, I had no idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Much appreciate your kindness, Angela!

        Cooking is a burst of joy, isn’t it? So many opportunities to explore our curiosities, and then to share the happiness, Yes, in the broadest sense, everything’s been done before, but in every case (especially in the kitchen) we have about 10.000 chances to make the experience uniquely our own. …then to give the gift to everyone in our lives!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed, most definitely!

        Any human endeavor qualifies which relies on individual effort for its expression. That expression, when it pleases, becomes artistry. See your own writing, Angela, for an example of this.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m assembling a list of things to cook, myself. I call it “Things to Make When I Run Out of Excuses.” This one makes that list. Now, historically speaking, I don’t really like mushrooms (the two or three times I’ve tried them, anyway)… But I’m suddenly developing a craving to reevaluate my position.

    And it occurs to me I don’t think I’ve asked you this before: how long have you been cooking, anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that’s wonderfully flattering, Rachel! It’s self-serving of me to recommend mushrooms, of course, because I do love them so. Plus, Pennsylvania, where I live, is the country’s premier mushroom producer (Kennett Square and all), but I do think you owe to yourself to give them one more chance. So versatile!

      Thanks for the interest in my culinary history. I’ve been cooking since I was a child. Having two parents who worked encouraged creativity. Cooking with any real knowledge, however? Only in the last few years. Again, this is but a delightful hobby, as I do something else entirely to earn an income.

      OK, Rachel, your turn. How long have you been beautifying the language? When did you realize first you had real talent, and that you’d do yourself, and the world, the favor of expressing it? I mean, beyond the “Roses are red…” scribbling we all did when we were seven?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh. Although, if you were really self-serving, you’d tell everyone they were horrible. More for you that way. 😜 As it stands, you may just make a convert out of me; which may just mean an impending mushroom shortage.

        Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you were a fairly independent kid. What (if anything) prompted the more recent surge in culinary interest?

        Ha! Fair enough. I don’t remember exactly what age I was (or any profound realizations of any talent), but I know it was 15 or before because I have poems written down dated from then. I mostly just remember deciding to start a poetry blog when I turned 17, and to practice in the meantime. I had actually loathed poetry for quite a while — I thought it unnecessarily tedious — only to discover a certain beauty in it that I had overlooked before. It gave a voice to things I wouldn’t have known how to say otherwise, which I suppose is what prompted the blog idea. This was after my social withdrawal years, you see, and I needed to learn how to talk to people again. I figured a blog would be a good place to start.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yep Rachel, the blog must’ve been a good place to start, because look where it’s taken you since. As far as “learn(ing) to talk to people” goes, you did quite well there too. Just look at the discussions each and every one of your posts inspires!

        Speaking of communications, what makes your poetry sparkle is its relatability. See, like you, I disparaged poetry once, often because it was impenetrable, and my confusion often brought angry denouncements. “Cretin!,” “Philistine!” and the like.

        Now, I hardly took in poetry, drooling from a slack jaw. “This don’t even rhyme!” Still, I could make neither heads nor tales of the stuff, and I resented that obscurity.

        Then, along came your writing, stirring, approachable yet elegant. Understandable, and profound. You redeemed poetry for me, Rachel. Yes, you did that!

        As for my own Enlightenment (and, as I love the 18th century, I’ll take up any excuse to deploy the term), it came from realizing cooking not only makes me happy, it feeds loved ones, and it’s a great way to make new friends.

        See?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Heh. Maybe. But there’s inspiring someone else (someone already with ample imagination and literary skill) to conversation, and then there’s not spending a week at a loss for words, myself. That last bit could use some work…

        Even as I sit here, trying again and again to figure out what to say, I’m at a loss. Should I tell my first reaction, of the smile and that slightest flicker of pride and hope? Or the second, the one of sad doubt, and that amused, resigned shake of the head? I really don’t know, and so I’ll settle for the broader truth of both, and hope you understand that there is gratitude in each.

        That is an excellent reasoning, by the way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well Rachel, thanks for the compliments. (Speaking of gratitude…)

        Your plight matches my own all too often. Sure, on occasion, a response suggests itself instantly. Yet this happens…well, just about never. Most of the time, major writer’s block gums up the works. What you just wrote, sparkles. There’s no way I’m going to come close to matching it.

        Turns out, though, the first impulse is the good one. See, that’s the problem with the contemplative – overthinking. God forbid we go with our gut. No, no…we have to analyze everything to death. Second-guess ourselves, then third-guess, then fourth-guess. Before we know it, years have passed.

        Want some advice from someone who’s been there? Go with the first reaction. Go with the smile.

        You know what, Rachel? So much of what you describe sounds oh-so-familiar, because that was my mindset for years too. Far from dismissing your caution, your feelings, I’m trying to give you the Cliff Notes version of what it took me years, sometimes, to realize.

        You’ve a prodigious mind, Rachel, which supplies you ample creativity. Use it. The first thing to come to mind usually is the best thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sounds good, Rachel. That’s your resolution, and mine’s to provide you ample reason to grin.

        Whether in amusement, satisfaction or anticipation, you decide. Our species has gotten in so much trouble with this whole internet thing.

        No worries, we’ll restore the balance!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Seriously, Rachel, that’s your idea? Spending time with Rosy’s gang? My God, among the few who are literate, none surpasses a second-grade reading level.

        After a week, or two at the outside, I’d be pounding together two rocks. And laughing at the sound they make.

        Come on, you’ve been stuck on a ship with these people. Do I exaggerate?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Well… No, if you’re not counting Gillis the Budding Philosopher (that’s his actual name, he had it… somewhat-legally changed). But one thing Rosy’s pirates do have in abundance is *style*. And gold too. But *style*.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Aye! Do we find the gold, or does the gold find us?

        Swab your own deck, Cap’n! Seems I’ve got some ponderin’ to do.

        As many unhappy plank-walkers will testify, the line was copied many times subsequently, but Gillis was the first – and only – crew member to deploy it with success.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Hah! Indeed, Gillis is quite fortunate that his capacity to carry on a conversation (and his knack for crafting popular ad campaigns) are invaluable enough to Rosy to make up for the philosopher’s… eccentricities.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. True, Rachel.

        Your point is valid, though what good (i.e., of what relevance) is a reference if it falls far wide of the mark?

        We are social creatures, after all, thus most of what we do is valued by the reactions it generates. I could ask if you “remember that time,” but if it just makes you shrug your shoulders, it’s kind of pointless, isn’t it?

        For example, remember that time we talked about dwarf mastodons?

        Liked by 1 person

      11. True. But then, it can be hard to know exactly what references a person will understand. And while the speaker may well be obligated to try and be understandable, is not the listener also obligated to try and understand? Again: the symbol may not be known — but the thing it represents often includes a feeling, a vibe; and that can often still be understood, if the listener is truly listening.

        Do I remember that time? Uhh… Actually… Yes? Wait… Maybe? I remember dwarf woolly mammoths. And I remember something about mastodons. But, well… Let’s just say the filing system isn’t so good upstairs, and now I’m not completely sure what is actually supposed to go where.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Appreciate your patience, and your constant quest for knowledge, my friend!

        Indeed, I often draw inspiration from the pre-Woodstock sixties, as it represents the full flowering of postwar optimistic elegance. Whether it’s modern-day looks-back (“Mad Men”) or players in the era’s entertainments (“Felix”), I’m all about the references!

        What about you, Rachel? What inspires your imagination?

        Oh, about the diminutive mammoths/mastodons, would you believe they actually were a real thing? I didn’t conjure them for our narrative; they merely inspired its descriptive richness.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I ought to be the one thanking you for your patience, Keith. I’ve been out of it lately.

        I’ve noticed your preference; though sadly, I’m far less familiar with such shows, myself. My household’s staples have always been sci-fi, crime shows, things like that. I grew up with Stargate, NCIS, Babylon 5, and… many other things I’m surely forgetting at the moment. Sometimes a Twilight Zone marathon would get turned on, and I always enjoyed that — which in retrospect, strikes me as a slightly odd preference for a child, but I think it shaped me in some good ways.

        Really? Huh. My knowledge in that area is sorely lacking, I’m afraid; in fact, I have to look up mastodon almost every time I read it. Which is part of the reason for my earlier uncertainty. I read just enough from Google to be unclear whether or not mammoths and mastodons were the same thing; which gave me pause, and reason enough to doubt my already dubious memory.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Not “out of it” here. that’s for sure!

        Actually, Rachel, your generous and wide-ranging comments prove otherwise. Come on, we covered mastodons and “Mad Men,” and that was just on one thread! If this is your notion of being detached, I must buckle my breastplate, because once you attach again, I’m in for quite the adventure. (Gulp!)

        That’s a pretty cool collection of your own viewership. Which “Twilight Zone,” the color 80s remake, or the B&W classic from the Ike/JFK era?

        As for my own predilections, I know perfectly well how pointless (and impossible) it is to live in the past, but that doesn’t prevent me from using it to invigorate the present and to inspire the future. Sure, that era was long before either one of us was about, but we still can stop by to collect a spark or two, can’t we?

        Oh, and I very possibly may be wrong, but I always thought a “mastodon” and a “wooly mammoth” were the same thing, and I use the two terms at random. Of course, I likely have discussed them more over the last month or so than I have since I first learned about them lo-those-many years ago! Always exciting, right? 😏

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Hah! Thanks; but I’ve been far tardier than I’ve meant to be.

        Thanks. Black and white Twilight Zone, actually, which is part of why I find it so odd an interest for a child of the century.

        Oh, you needn’t explain yourself to me. My preferences may seem to consist of the futuristic — but then, most of my favorite books are from/set in the 1800-1900s.

        Aye, I do the same sort of thing sometimes. And yes, bringing the long-extinct back from the dead is always fun. Except for when it tries to kill you. Or you’re being tested on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Oh, I relate absolutely, Rachel!

        In addition to my hankerin’ for the Mid-Century Modern era (Mad Men, classic Bond, The Odd Couple/Felix), I just adore the 18th century. In both cases, I love their stylishness and elegance, though both had certain…societal conventions…my modern mind won’t accept. Oh well, one loves despite, not because, right? Inspirations-a-plenty for a better future!

        Considering that, your appreciation for the original Twilight Zone series makes perfect sense. Unless you’re certain Current Society has all the answers and there’s no way to improve on it, there’s always room for the dreamers. Especially for voracious readers such as ourselves who love getting lost in good books.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You think, Tamara? Because that (social media – I mean, at least that beyond WordPress) is an option that’s sent thoughts aloft for a while now.

      Truth is, readership has fallen from its peak last summer. Part of that might be angst over the election, the late-stage pandemic, or both, though I do try to discuss neither. It does make me all the more grateful, too, for those like you who have remained faithful throughout.

      Even so, I’m not oblivious to the numbers, and, truth be told, I do yearn for the audiences that gathered in August. A few friends have advised social media is a great means of distributing more invitations.

      Sure, though I also am aware social media consumes massive amounts of time. As it is, working, blogging (both writing and reading), cooking, reading and, yes, playing, take up all my time as it is. The last thing I need is another patch of quicksand.

      See what I mean, Tamara? Thoughts galore!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, there are a few preparations that didn’t quite strike my fancy, but that’s on me, not on the mushrooms!

        Besides, that represents, like, .1% of cases. The other 99.9%, absolutely amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

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