Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Stir Fry

A few years back I was discussing the television show The Wire with a friend, talking about its gritty depiction of drugs, police and poverty in Baltimore. My friend observed that it was this amazing, compelling window into a world that she just never, ever, ever wanted to visit. To a limited extent, I feel that way when I read certain blogs.

Like many blog readers, I have a mild obsession with The Pioneer Woman. I linger dreamily over her descriptions of life on a ranch, of storybook romance, of the grown-up fantasy of Little House on the Prairie meets a Viking range and high speed internet (and without the smallpox and scarlet fever). But the recipes? I generally am not going to go there.

As a produce-loving vegetarian (well, fishatarian), it's understandable that I wouldn't find too much to drool over coming out of a cattle ranch kitchen. Sure, I share the love of butter. But not as a fundamental food group building block. And while there are the occasional forays into what she jokingly calls "cowgirl food," the bulk of the entries are steak, chicken, steak again, etc. So generally after reading and loving the witty introductions and descriptions of daily Oklahoma life, I tend to skip the actual recipes. Until I saw this summer stir fry.

This recipe is great. It's just a whole pile of sweet corn and zucchini, studded with briny-sweet shrimp. I've tweaked it a bit to suit my taste and incorporate elements of other recipes I've loved, adding a hit of lime juice, a sprinkling of summer basil, and buttery chunks of avocado. The result is somewhere between a stir-fry and a salad, all light and summer and vegetable, but surprisingly satisfying. I could eat this three days a week.

And in other news of surprising culinary cultural exchanges, here's a recent radio story I produced about the past and present of food cart fusion cuisine. Perhaps Korean tacos will be next on the menu.

Summer Stir Fry

inspired by The Pioneer Woman
serves ~3-4

1-2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 lb shrimp
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced
3 ears of corn, kernels sliced off (if you have a bundt pan, jamming the ear into the center ring and slicing so that kernels fall into the pan works brilliantly)
juice of 1/2 lime
1 handful basil, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 avocado, cubed

Heat a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter or oil, and then the garlic and saute until just beginning to turn golden. Add the shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just barely cooked through. Pour the shrimp and garlic out into a large bowl, and set aside.

Add the zucchini to the pan, with additional butter or oil if needed. Sautee until softened and beginning to color. Remove from the pan (you can just add it to the same bowl as the shrimp and garlic).

Add the corn to the skillet, and cook just a minute or two until it turns a darker color but is still crisp. Turn off the flame, and add the corn to the shrimp and zucchini. Season the mixture with the lime juice, basil, and salt and pepper. Mix well, and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the cubed avocado, and stir gently to mix. This is great warm from the skillet, or cold from the fridge.


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