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!

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Weekend Sailing Trip – Gluten-free? Totally.

So, last weekend I went on a sailing trip to Catalina Island, which is right off the coast of Southern California. This was my first time really being on a boat for an extended period of time, so admittedly I was a little nervous. It’s sort of like the most extreme dinner party ever when it comes to eating what other people prepare for you. Fortunately, though the host couple, the ones who actually knew what they were doing sailing wise, were super considerate when sending out the “Meal Assignment” email before the trip to the group and mentioned that there would be a Gluten-Free person in their midst.

Lindsay, the lady half of the host couple, brought along some Udi’s bread. Now how thoughtful is that? And, this is a somewhat shameful moment in my gluten-free life, but I actually hadn’t ever had it. I’m sure all you new gluten-free eaters out there know ALL about it, though and if you don’t well now you know. Udi bread is delicious.

I actually gave up on gluten-free bread YEARS ago. It’s just not that tasty. Plus, it’s kind of fattening for something that isn’t that tasty, so I found alternatives that suited my taste buds which we’ll talk about in my next post. For now, though I just want to repeat that I am now a reformed eater of gluten-free bread, specifically Udi’s.

On another note, the weekend sailing was amazing. My group left on Friday morning, but I had to work so I joined them via the Catalina Express from San Pedro in the evening. While waiting to board, I got my mini-vacay started off right with a glass of Murphy-Goode Chardonnay, which was perfect for the hot September evening.

Once it was time to board, I hopped on the fairy and enjoyed the sun setting behind these massive transformer looking things.

When I arrived to the boat, I was greeted with smiles and a yummy bowl of Chicken Chili (gluten-free), of course.  After dinner and a couple more glasses of wine, we all hit the hay for a big day of sailing, swimming, snorkeling, and eating the next day. Udi’s Bread aside, the trick to eating on this trip was sticking to simple meals like scrambled eggs for breakfast, meats & cheeses for lunch, and 1 pot type meals for dinner.  It was a beautiful time. Yummy food, good company, and stunning scenery!