Clean Plate Charlie had this really cool idea. Take one of your favorite dishes from one of your favorite restaurants and, applying a little time, a few tablespoons of culinary knowledge, and a willingness to eat the inevitable mistakes, attempt to re-create it at home.
Since Charlie absolutely adores Thai cuisine and -- sadly -- most Thai cuisine in these parts is hardly worthy of adoration, he reached back to a dish his taste buds still pine for from one of his favorite restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. There's nothing too difficult or complicated about it; the only (slightly) tricky part is the cooking -- just remember to be gentle and pay attention. Maybe Charlie's cool idea will be yours too.
PORK-STUFFED SHRIMP WITH SWEET THAI CHILI SAUCE
For the pork:
1 lb. ground pork
6 T. cilantro, roots, stems and leaves chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3 T. fish sauce (Tiparos is a good brand)
2 t. black peppercorns, whole
1 T. salt
1 T. sugar
8 jumbo shrimp (U-8 count)
Peanut oil for basting
8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least half an hour
Place the cilantro, garlic, and peppercorns in a mortar and mash to a
thick paste with pestle or very finely chop cilantro, coarsely grind
one scant tablespoon of black pepper and grate garlic cloves on
microplaner. Add mixture to pork with fish sauce, salt and sugar and
work it in with your hands. Refrigerate.
Remove the feet from
the shrimp, then--leaving shells on--devein and butterfly, making sure
not to cut all the way through. Place shrimp in bowl full of water with
one tablespoon of salt and toss until shrimp are no longer sticky and
all remnants of the vein have been washed away. Rinse off, then thread
each shrimp lengthwise on a skewer, keeping them as straight as
Take approximately one heaping tablespoon of pork
mixture and roll it into a rough cylinder, then pack it into the
butterflied cavity of each shrimp. Place shrimp on a tray and
refrigerate for at least one hour to firm up the stuffing, then start
making the sauce.
For the sauce:
3 t. Sriracha (hot chili sauce)
½ t. garlic, grated on microplaner
2-1/2 T. rice wine vinegar
6 T. water
2 T. sugar
2 t. fish sauce
1 t. cornstarch
all ingredients in saucepan and stir. Bring to boil, then simmer over
low heat for five minutes until blended and thick. Remove from heat,
pour into small bowl and reserve.
To cook shrimp:
grate of gas or charcoal grill, then reduce heat/let coals burn down to
medium-hot. Gently baste stuffed shrimp with peanut oil, then place on
grill pork side down. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on heat of
grill, distance from heat source, and size of shrimp. Working carefully
with tongs, turn shrimp on side and grill for about one minute,
then turn on other side and grill one minute more. Shrimp should no
longer be translucent and pork should be firm to the touch and lightly
browned. Remove from grill and serve with sauce. Serves 2.
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If you've read this far, you have no doubt already realized that one
pound of pork is a lot more than you can use in this recipe. What do
you do with the rest? Well, Charlie's mother didn't raise him to be no
fool. You'll just have to check back next week to find out.