Monday, August 30, 2010

Shrimp in Spiced Tomato Sauce...

When I was laying out the menu for this week, I glanced at our schedules for what would be happening today and noticed we were going to be stretched thin. While I knew we would have leftovers in the freezer if it looked like I was going to run out of time to prepare dinner, I still wanted to plan on cooking a fresh meal if life happened to allow for that. I had to make sure I was picking a dish that followed two guidelines - it needed to be quick to make and wouldn't leave a disaster to clean up afterward.

I had two recipes in mind (one was shrimp and the other pork) and left it up to Jeff to choose as I had picked out everything else already, even though I knew he would jump for the shrimp dish. No surprise, he did, choosing this Shrimp in Spiced Tomato Sauce.

The sauce is the star of this, but it may be more uniquely spiced than you are used to. While starting off with an onion is hardly unusual, what sets this sauce off onto another journey is the potent hit from minced ginger that's added at the same time. If you're using a fresh knob that you have just picked up from the market, a knife does the job just fine to mince it into pieces (and incidentally, a regular spoon makes removing the tough skin a breeze) but I like to store the ginger in the freezer (peeled first) and then use a coarse microplane to make short work of it. Not only does it keep for quite some time that way, it is already prepped and ready to go whenever I need a shot.

When the onion had softened, ramping up the sauce continued by stirring in ground coriander, cayenne pepper and a hint of brightness from a bit of lemon zest. Tomatoes went in next, using a large can of whole, peeled to keep the quick-to-make theme going - just break them up with your hands as you add them into the pot. Once the sauce had a chance to simmer, allowing the spices to permeate throughout the pot, taste and season fairly aggressively with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Because the shrimp are tossed into the sauce unseasoned to cook, you need the extra dose to make sure the little guys perk up.

Only taking a couple minutes in the steamy sauce to cook the shrimp through, we served this saucy dish over a bed of warm whole-wheat couscous with a smattering of fresh cilantro on top. The fragrant note of ginger and coriander was a little striking at first bite, but the more we ate, the more we couldn't stop! Don't shy away from the cayenne pepper - if you're worried about heat, the amount in the sauce lends just a bare whisper, rather than an intense burn.

On the chance you like to prepare meals in advance for easy dinners, you can do most of this dish ahead of time - prepare everything just to the point when the recipe calls for adding the shrimp. Let the tomato sauce cool to room temperature, place the peeled and deveined shrimp (if the peeled shrimp are frozen, leave them that way to begin with) into a gallon-sized zip-loc style bag, then pour the cooled sauce on top. Remove as much air that you can to seal, then store until needed. To cook, let the bag thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then pour the mix into a medium saucepan and bring up to a rapid simmer. Let the sauce continue to bubble until the shrimp are just opaque throughout (this should take about 3 minutes or so).


  1. My parents live over near Wilmington and they get their shrimp right off the boat 20 pounds at a time. It might be worth a trip to the coast for some shrimp....

  2. This sauce sounds so amazing. And then shrimp to top it off--sign me up!

  3. Quinn - Lucky!

    James - Try it!