There are some days that I look forward to just sharing a recipe because we enjoyed it and I want someone else out there to be able to enjoy it too. There are other days that I look forward to the aspect of being able to write about food and life, how they connect with one another. Today is a day I feel like writing, so I will. Ahem...
For a few months toward the end of 2011, I had a little side gig as a contributor to Dallas Observer's City of Ate blog. A friend had sent me an ad they posted about looking for writers with new and different perspectives, so I decided why not. I submit an idea to take restaurant favorites and recreate to try to make them easier, cheaper and healthier than going out to dine at a restaurant. It was a fun bit to have, but one that didn't fit in well with my work schedule. I found I was spending much more money dining out, then buying ingredients for the recreation, and more time dining out, then creating, then potentially creating again, then writing, then editing, then re-writing.... it was much more than I had planned on in order to meet their deadlines and expectations. I realized that my hobby was just that, a hobby, and I would keep it as such on my own time and on my own terms.
However, I've had fun with that premise, it's intrigued me for years, and it is something that has inspired a lot of recipes I've made. When Max Man and I first started dating, he was finishing his masters and was in study mode for finals. We got to know each other by staying in and cooking together, rather than going out to eat a lot. That set the tone for our relationship where we would scour restaurant menus and look for appealing dishes to make at home or wander the grocery stores of Central Market putting together a basket of food, then making it work back at one of our apartments. The next year of our little courtship, he started the CFA exam - only offered once a year, this takes up much of his spare time in the spring months before the June test. During that time, we started coming up with low-key date night alternatives, which if we weren't going to a cooking class, we were studying various cooking school menus, researching recipes and making those at home, learning and trying new things together. It has been an activity that encompasses the beginning of our relationship and a common interest that we bonded on early. We always look forward to the nights we get to cook together - and of course, I'm biased, but I have the best sous chef in my kitchen! He is the left-brain to my right-brain tendencies and it's a great balance for us.
Max Man is typically apart of the Sunday meal planning exercise, though during the spring, with his work busy season and study season for the CFA, he can't help cook very often. We chose our challenge dish for the week and decided to make it on a night that he could get off work early enough to cook it up together.
Tonight's Make a Meal dish is inspired by a plate at a local restaurant favorite, Victor Tango's, where my Lobster Mac and Jack post derived from. We tried it recently at a birthday dinner: chili-garlic shrimp served over creamy polenta - it was to.die.for. I had a few shrimp dishes that I've made before using Sriracha, sweet chili sauce, some garlic and honey so I decided to resort to those for some ingredient choices. I searched for a lighter, lower cal polenta recipe, not wanting to compromise the creamy consistency and this one did the trick! This was just as good as the restaurant and definitely met my three objectives to be healthier (more than likely because I was in control as to what went in it), easier and cheaper than going to Victor Tango's and getting this on any given night.
For shrimp - enough for 3 servings. Nutritional facts found here, calculated to 2 WW points, serving size is 5-6 shrimp.
- 3/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 tbsp. low sodium Ponzu (a citrus enhanced soy sauce - great for cooking with fish)
- 2 tbsp. chili sauce
- 1 tsp. mirin
- 2 tbsp. Sriracha
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Scallions, chopped
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Dried thyme and parsley to taste
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups fat free skim milk
- 1 cup polenta
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
Pour in the chicken broth and skim milk, bring to a boil.
While you are waiting for this to boil, start the shrimp. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the ponzu, chili sauce, mirin, sriracha, and garlic.
Add the shrimp to the sauce and mix to fully coat. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and pour the shrimp in. Cook for about 2 minutes and flip to cook another 2 minutes on the other side.
As the shrimpies cook, slowly whisk the polenta into the pot, a little at a time to prevent from clumping. Turn the heat down to a medium-low heat and continue to whisk as the polenta thickens.
Add the parm and stir until it is melted in.
Ladle one scoop of the polenta into a shallow bowl and top with the spicy shrimp and any additional sauce. Top with chopped scallions and serve!