Texture? Yes, please. Orange Peel Shrimp

One thing that people with celiac disease miss out on is texture with their food. Typically, when descriptive words like “fried,” “encrusted,” or “dusted” are used when referencing a dish, my red flags go up indicating I most likely will not be able to eat whatever deliciousness is being presented to me. More times than not, I am correct.

Enter – Corn Starch. That’s right. Corn Starch is a fantastic substitute for a lot of recipes that call for flour as a thickening agent or simply to give it that delicious crisp we all love.  Back in my wheat eating days, I loved me some Orange Peel Shrimp from the tasty chain PF Chang’s which coincidentally PF does have  a whole section on their menu devoted to gluten-free items, so “way to go” PF Chang’s. They do not however have my favorite Orange Peel Shrimp included in that portion of the menu, so PF if I may make a suggestion, Corn Starch..

But anyway lets get back to actually cooking the citrus shrimp, shall we? When you don’t feel like going out but still want that crisp, Orange Peel Shrimp is my go to recipe. It’s relatively easy yet still impressive to whomever you may be cooking it for as it says “Yup. I know how to cook.” So, I found this recipe on PBS.com as well as on another blog called Eat, Live, Run, which actually found the same recipe on PBS.com. Coincidence? Yes, probably but it was enough for me!  As a general rule, I try not to make anything with too many ingredients or steps. I much prefer 30 minutes or less type recipes. This recipe fit my very strict (not at all) requirements, so I decided to make it. Now for a little play by play action.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs raw shrimp, de-veined with tails on or off
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced  – I cheated a bit and used OJ, but I definitely say zest if you can just for sheer bragging rights.
  • 6 tbsp orange marmalade
  • ½ cup soy sauce – HIGHLY recommend San-J Wheat Free Soy Sauce. I like the Low Sodium one the best.
  • 4 Thai chili peppers (optional but recommended)
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 4 tbsp canola oil, divided

Before I start, I suggest purchasing shrimp already de-veined. You’ll still need to take the shells off before you cook. It just gets you one step closer to the end result, plus de-veining is kind of gross. After removing the shells and the tails, which I prefer to do ahead of time as well, I coated the shrimp in a thorough layer of corn starch then set aside, until it was time to fry.   I also went ahead and put  my (only) apron on, courtesy of my fellow foodie friend, Dave, for my birthday this year. I’ve found it to be very useful, especially when cooking anything that splashes hot oil out of the pan/on you.

 

                              

I got all of the rest of the prep work done first because once the pans get going, this recipe flourishes into reality rather quickly.

Here’s how it goes –

  • Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic, six thinly sliced scallions (save the other two for serving), orange zest and thai chili peppers. Saute briefly for about two minutes until garlic is fragrant and scallions wilt.
  • Add the soy sauce, orange juice, orange marmalade and red pepper flakes to the pan and stir well to combine. Mixture should be bubbling. Continue simmering until sauce thickens, about five minutes or so. It should become very, very thick. Once thick, turn off heat.

            

  • Heat the remaining three tablespoons of oil in another skillet or wok over high heat. Once sizzling hot, drop the shrimp in the oil and fry for about a minute or two until shrimp are very pink and curled. The cornstarch should create a crunchy outer coating on the shrimp.

            

  • Remove the shrimp from the oil and toss in the orange sauce.
  • Serve shrimp over brown rice with additional scallions on top.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I like to improvise, so for this dish I added  snow peas for some extra color and dimension to the  plate. For the brown rice portion of the meal, I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Brown Rice. It’s the best! Microwave 3 minutes and you have perfect brown rice. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve had the worst luck with making rice. I mean I know it’s easy but I always find a way to ruin it somehow; I’m pretty sure my lack of patience has something to do with it. Hence, complete happiness for  microwaveable brown rice in my life.

                        

Wine pairing? Yes. Always-ish. In agreement with Shit Girls Say, I love wine. I love it because it’s really fun and interesting to taste the way it enhances your meal or perhaps detracts from it. A couple years ago I was wine tasting around the Central Coast, also known as where Sideways was filmed, and I learned that pairing a Riesling or another sweeter white wine with spicy Asian or Indian dishes is an excellent compliment to the food. For me, Rieslings and other German whites were what I started out drinking way back when, so as I got older I kind of considered them amateur hour type wines for my oh soooo refined palate. Well, remembering this lesson while grocery shopping, I decided to test it out and bought a bottle of Fetzer Riesling. It was $10, which is right about my price range on an experiment of sorts. Was it sweet? Yes. Did it go well with the Orange Peel Shrimp? YES. See…wine is fun!

Cheers! Now, lets eat!

If you are what you eat, then I’m a Corn Tortilla.

So. Why am I not a big fan of gluten-free bread? Well, the answer is simple, corn tortillas are naturally wheat-free and they’re delicious. I replaced my bread needs with corn tortillas back in my college days. You see most people gained  the “Freshman 15” but not me. Instead, I gained the “Sophomore 20.” This is for the simple reason of finally being able to cook for myself, rather than being subjected to dorm  food. I was able to make whatever I wanted and one thing in particular was sandwiches with gluten-free bread. Thing is I never really liked the bread because it was so dense not to mention kind of expensive on a college student’s budget, plus it was pretty fattening per slice for not being too tasty.

Now let me preface, once you have Celiac Disease or decide to eat gluten-free, you’re not exactly concerned with fat content or at least I wasn’t nor am I now. I am however health conscious and wouldn’t typically eat something I don’t like very much unless it was my only option, ya know?  At the time, I wasn’t thinking too outside the box and thought gluten-free bread was my only option. Not thrilled with my limitedness, I began getting more adventurous in what I ate. Something I say out-load and inside my brain is “Can I eat it? Then, I will.” This excludes gross things, however like bugs or any other blatantly nasty yet edible things. It’s not Fear Factor..geez.

Annnyway..back to corn tortillas or as I affectionately call them, “dillas.”  Breakfast Burrito? Nope. Breakfast Tacos. Turkey Sandwich? Nah man. Turkey Quesadilla. Pizza? Okay…well, now I’m  stretching it a bit. Although, I have been known to put some pizza sauce and toppings on a couple corn tortillas, then put it in the toaster oven. What’s the lesson? Other than corn tortillas are a great substitute to bread? Give up? It’s to IMPROVISE. Improvisation is key when eating gluten-free. As I mentioned in my first post, food is not the enemy. It’s delicious!

Now for my extremely simple recipe, if you can even call it that, for a Turkey Quesadilla aka my version of a Turkey Sandwich.

First – make a Quesadilla. * I use 3 ‘dillas so that they stand up to the meat and other flavors I add.

Now you can obviously fill it with whatever you’re heart desires but one of my favorite combinations is: Turkey, Muenster Cheese, Avocado, & Pico de Gallo

For a long time, I would only buy my turkey or other meats from a deli, that is until I found Columbus Roasted Turkey Breast. It doesn’t taste pre-packaged and lasts twice as long as regular deli meat. Plus, guess what? It’s gluten-free! (Click the Pic for all the deets).

Once the dilla is hot off the stove, you simply peel it open and let cool for a few secs before adding the innards. Cut in half, then maybe add some chips & a pickle. Full disclosure, I eat these at minimum of 3-4 times a week. If you don’t have avocado or maybe just don’t like it, I really like using hummus along with the turkey instead of your typical mustard or mayo.