Coconut-Crusted Swordfish with Dragon Fruit Slaw

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Coconut-crusted swordfish steak with dragon fruit slaw and jasmine rice.

Tonight we made a curiously medieval seeming meal with swords and dragons. We picked up some swordfish steaks and a dragon fruit with the notion of preparing fish with a fruit salsa, but the latter ended up as a cabbage-based slaw instead – looking a bit like dice has been thrown in. :-)

Ingredients, for the slaw:

  • red cabbage, 1/2 head, thinly sliced
  • dragon fruit, 1, peeled and cubed
  • spicy red peppers, e.g., jalapeño, 2-3, seeded
    (I think these were Barker’s Hot Pepper, a.k.a. hot Anaheim.)
  • scallion, 1, chopped
  • fresh orange juice, about 1/4 cup
  • fresh lime juice, from 1/2 lime
  • apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • chopped cilantro leaf (we used dried)
  • salt, to taste

Prepare the slaw much as you would any fresh cabbage and vinegar-based coleslaw. Wait until the end, though, to carefully stirring the cubed dragon fruit in, when your slaw has been otherwise prepared to your liking.

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Some dragon fruit slaw ingredients.

Ingredients, for the swordfish steaks and sauce:

  • swordfish steaks, 1 per person, thawed from frozen
  • unsweetened, flaked coconut, about 1/2 cup
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • scallion, 1, white portion chopped, greens sliced for garnish
  • fresh orange juice, about 1/2 cup
  • corn starch

While the slaw sits for a while, salt and pepper the swordfish steaks and coat with flaked coconut.  For the sauce, simply stir about a teaspoon of corn starch into the orange juice and set aside for after the fish has been cooked.

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Coconut-crusted swordfish and sauce ingredients.

Add a few tablespoons of oil, e.g., canola, to a skillet heated medium to medium-high.

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Pan-frying coconut-crusted swordfish steaks.

Pan-fry the swordfish steaks, about 4-5 minutes per side (for these that were about 1 inch thick), flipping them over just once.

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Pan-frying coconut-crusted swordfish steaks.

Plate the steaks and keep them warm. Meanwhile, reducing the pan heat to medium-low and quickly sauté the whites of the scallion just lightly, combined with whatever coconut flakes remained in the pan. Next, immediately pour the orange juice and cornstarch mixture into the pan, stirring with the scallion and coconut until the sauce thickens.

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Preparing the coconut orange scallion sauce.

Pour sauce over each of the swordfish steaks, top with scallion greens, and serve accompanied by the fruit slaw and perhaps also jasmine rice.

This was a tasty meal. I’ve not prepared swordfish steaks before, but they were quite nice topped with this simple coconut-scallion-orange sauce. Swordfish is substantial in texture and was nicely contrasted by the fresh, crisp, spicy, tart, sweet fruit and cabbage slaw. I bet it would go just as well with a fruit salsa instead.

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Coconut-crusted swordfish steak with dragon fruit slaw and jasmine rice.

Update (March 10, 2016):

The leftovers, with some black beans and salsa added, made a great “sad desk lunch!”

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Swordfish and dragon fruit burrito!

Here are some related recipes I consulted for ideas:

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Brussels Sprout and Ham Fried Rice

Brussels Sprouts and Ham Fried Rice.

Brussels Sprout and Ham Fried Rice.

With the goal of making use of some of the leftover Easter ham (admittedly, my Easter is more of a meal than a religious experience… unless the food is exceptionally good), we decided on a dinner of Brussels Sprout and Ham Fried Rice. This was a bit of an East meets West fusion flavored with a touch of mustard and whole mustard seed.

Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts and Ham Fried Rice.

Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts and Ham Fried Rice.

The ingredients are as shown, except for the mustard and freshly-ground black pepper. (You might notice the spring onions are missing their green tops; my partner likes to use the greens in her lunchtime salads, so lately there have been plenty of the white portions available for dinnertime recipes… for flavor, anyway, if not for color.) The rice was prepared in the morning and refrigerated for some hours. The red peppers are some large, spicy variety from our asian grocer. I’d not seen them before but they were sort of like large version of Thai bird chili pepper. (If you know what this larger version is, please let me know! The seeds were hot but not the rest, and not as hot as the typical smaller Thai chili.)

Prepped ingredients for Brussels Sprouts and Ham Fried Rice.

Prepped ingredients for Brussels Sprouts and Ham Fried Rice.

The sauce was what I typically do for fried rice: a combination of soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and something sweet (this time a bit of brown sugar), but this time I also added a couple tablespoons of a coarse brown mustard.

Yellow mustard seed in oil.

Yellow mustard seed in oil.

The frying started off with yellow mustard seeds in oil.

Fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced carrot, and ginger.

Fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced carrot, and ginger.

Then the sprouts, carrot and a couple thumbs of ginger (minced)…

Stir frying the Brussels sprouts, carrot, and fresh ginger in mustard seed and oil.

Stir frying the Brussels sprouts, carrot, and fresh ginger in mustard seed and oil.

stir-fried in hot pan until they were cooked through and a bit blackened at the edge. I used a bit of the sauce and a bit of water to keep the fond in the pan from burning by sort of deglazing it along the way.

Stir frying the ham, garlic, spring onion, red pepper, and rice.

Stir frying the ham, garlic, spring onion, red pepper, and rice.

The rice and ham were stirred in and fried a bit over medium heat, and, lastly, the spring onion, hot peppers, and sauce added.

I served this fried rice accompanied by a glass of Red Rice Ale, an appropriate fusion beer for an asian fusion fried rice!

Brussels Sprouts and Ham Fried Rice served accompanied by Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale.

Brussels Sprout and Ham Fried Rice served accompanied by Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale.

Here is a recipe that inspired us to make this dish (but they forgot the ham!):

Gua Bao with Five Spice Pork Ribs

Gua bau with five spice ribs and pickled vegetables.

Gua bau with five spice ribs and pickled vegetables.

One of my long-time favorite Chinese treats is cha siu bau: the tasty steamed buns filled with delicious char siu-barbecued pork that is common at dim sum meals.

The Taiwanese gua bao is a similar street food in which the ingredients are inserted in a folded bao after the flat bun is steamed; gua bao have become popular restaurant items in North America lately; for instance, I ordered them at Bahn Mi Boys in Toronto, where they offer a variety of fusion bao fillings.

For our version, we decided to prepare the steamed bao from scratch and dry-rubbed pork ribs and Chinese pickled vegetables for fillings.  As one friend said, ribs in the oven are pretty much “set it and forget it.” Along with the requisite time for pickled vegetables to take on the pickling flavors, there’s plenty of time to dabble in making steamed buns from scratch.

Dry rub ingredients.

Dry rub ingredients (salt and black pepper not shown).

Our sweet and spicy dry rub, inspired by Chinese five spice powder, consisted of: ground clove, cinnamon, whole star anise, fennel seed, dried chili peppers, along with dry rub staples: brown sugar, freshly ground pepper, and kosher salt to taste.  All these ingredients were ground together with a mortar and pestle until most of the ingredients were crushed finely, yielding about 1/3 cup of dry rub seasoning.

Dry rub ready to apply to ribs.

Dry rub ready to apply to ribs.

I used a colander to apply the dry rub evenly (and without large pieces that might be left from the dried chili peppers or star anise), half to each side of a rack of pork ribs, and placed it concave-side down on a foil-covered baking sheet in a 225° F oven for 2 hours, then lowered to 200° F for another 2 hours, (4 hours total) checking and turning occasionally.  (If need be, satisfactory results can be gotten in about 3 hours at 250-275° F.)

Ribs in the oven.

Ribs in the oven.

Next we prepared some Chinese pickled vegetables: matchstick carrot, sliced red onion, sliced cucumber, along with a sliced fresh serrano pepper and some pieces fresh ginger. These were soaked in a brine consisting of approximately half rice vinegar and half water, further flavored with some soy sauce, star anise, sugar, whole black peppercorns and a bit of sake.

Vegetables for pickling.

Vegetables for pickling.

The pickled vegetables where refrigerated for a few hours before use.

Pickled vegetables prepared as a condiment for gua bao.

Pickled vegetables: a condiment for gua bao.

Next, we prepared the dough for the steamed bao.  (My partner is the bread maker; see the sample recipes she provided linked below for details.)

Dough ingredients for steamed bao.

Dough ingredients for steamed bao.

Prepare dough for steamed bao.

Prepare dough for steamed bao.

Preparing bao for steaming.

Preparing bao for steaming.

Rolling out dough for steamed bao.

Rolling out dough for steamed bao.

Once rolled-out, the dough pieces were steamed atop cabbage leaves (to prevent sticking), some flat and some folded over, with a bit of oil on the top to prevent the folded ones from sticking closed.  We found steaming them (covered) about 10 minutes to be sufficient.

Steaming bao.

Steaming bao.

Once the rib rack was cooked, it was cut into individual ribs, with some served as-is and some having the meat stripped from the bone to top or fill the steamed bao with a bit of hoisin sauce and accompanied by a condiment of pickled vegetables.

Slicing ribs.

Slicing ribs.

Gua bao with five spice pork ribs and pickled vegetables.

Gua bao with five spice pork ribs, a dab of hoisin sauce, and a variety of pickled vegetables.

Both the five spice ribs and gua bao were delicious and we enjoyed making this asian treat from scratch.
The ribs and steamed bao reheat well in the microwave for some quick and easy subsequent meals.

Here are some related recipes that you might helpful if you decide to make gua bao yourself!
Enjoy!

Steamed Dumplings and Potstickers

Steamed Dumplings with soy and chili garlic sauces.

Steamed Dumplings with soy and chili garlic sauces.

Here is a popular treat from Chinese restaurants that’s fun to prepare at home, especially if you’re interested in an exotic dinner and aren’t short on time; we spent a couple hours making about 30 dumplings. They can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, but I wouldn’t want to miss the pleasure of eating a few right to reward myself right after the prep work!

The vegetarian dumplings were filled with a mix of napa cabbage (finely chopped), carrot (grated), ginger (finely grated), spring onion (minced), shiitake mushroom (rehydrated from dry, then chopped), tofu (firm, crumbled), garlic (finely grated), and five spice powder. We also tossed the filling with some soy sauce and sesame oil; this is optional, but gave the vegetable filling more flavor and perhaps helped it to clump when wrapping.

The meat dumplings contained the same filling with ground pork sausage flavored with five spice powder.  We used the meat from two store-bought sausages (fresh, raw); any mildly-spiced, coarse sausage would likely work well, but ours were Italian sausage, often spiced with fennel or anise seed, which is commonly used to flavor Chinese foods too.

We wrapped the filling using a simple dough of all-purpose flour and water, about 3 cups flour to about 1 1/4 cups water, rolled into balls and flattened by hand into circular wrappers. Fill each wrapper right after you flatten it to avoid the dough becoming too dry to work with.

Place whole cabbage leaves in the bottom of a steamer tray to keep the dumplings from sticking. After steaming the dumplings for about 20 minutes total (15 minutes is probably sufficient for the vegetarian ones), we served them for dinner along with a miso soup and froze about half of them to steam another time.

Our leftover steamed dumplings were prepared as potstickers the next day; from the refrigerator, they were rewarmed by microwave and then pan-fried in oil until browned on the bottom. I don’t think it’s traditional, but turn to brown the sides if you like – I did. :)

Potstickers.

Potstickers.

Here is the recipe that was basis for these dumplings and a recipe for the somewhat similar Polish dumplings, pierogi:

These dumplings were a fun project for two on a weekend evening and tasted every bit as good as many I’ve had at restaurants, even though this was a first time making them at home. Give them a try!

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with Ginger and Sesame

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

When I was young, I was not  a fan of celery.  As a child, it was somewhat palatable when topped with peanut butter, but even then I preferred peanut butter on carrots.  Basically, I used to think celery was a great way to ruin things, especially soup or chili. (“What were they thinking?!”)

Today, however, I quite enjoy celery, especially in Chinese dishes. So, finding ourselves in the predicament of having two big bunches of celery in the fridge, we decided to make a dinner of it, a stir-fry of celery and mushrooms.  While any mélange of mushrooms, asian or otherwise, might work, we chose shiitake, for their rich, smoky flavor to compliment the mild celery.  Some fresh baby bellas add a nice texture contrast.

For the sauce, I prepared perhaps 2/3 cup total by mixing the following to taste:

  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • honey
  • water (sparingly)
  • ground black pepper
  • bird peppers to taste (whole, dried)
  • sriracha or similar hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • corn starch (prepared as a slurry for thickening, added on heat at end)

Since the celery will release some water, the sauce need not be diluted much with water.

For the main ingredients:

  • celery, 1 bunch of stalks, leaves intact, coarsely cut, diagonally
  • shiitake, stems removed, caps cut in strips (from whole dried, reconstituted in warm water for a couple hours)
  • baby bella mushooms, fresh, cut into qarters or sixths
  • fresh ginger, finely chopped (a generous amount, e.g., 2 thumbs)
  • onion, cut in short strips, 2 small
  • sesame seeds
Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

While preparing rice in a rice cooker, we stir-fried the ingredients in a large cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of canola oil, beginning with the onion, ginger and shiitake, and a fraction of the sauce; I also put all the bird peppers in the pan at this time to soften them while cooking.  Once those are somewhat tender, add the celery and more sauce progressively, stirring and cooking for desired tenderness of the celery.  I like it cooked, but somewhat firm.  Lastly, add the fresh mushrooms (so as they are only lightly cooked) and thicken the sauce with corn starch slurry if you like a sauce that clings to the ingredients.

When finished, add some dashes of sesame oil, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds; alternatively, you might do this on the serving plate instead.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

We plated the stir-fry with white sticky rice.  This time I used Nishiki rice and found it nearly identical, prepared in a rice cooker, to the Calrose rice I usually use; both are grown in California, but Nishiki suggests it’s a Japanese sushi rice.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

This turned out to be a delicious dish, with the shiitake and ginger being a nice complement to simple, some might say, otherwise “shitty” celery.

For taking this celery from shit to shiitake, I’ll dedicate this post to FoodIsTheBestShitEver. Check ’em out if you haven’t already. :)

Here are some related recipes that might be useful, although I’ve not tried them:

Leftover Curry Frittata

Leftover Curry Frittata

Leftover Curry Frittata (chickpea, cabbage, and coconut) served with cumin rice.

I make a lot of curries; they’re flexible and amenable to creativity with whatever vegetables you have on hand.
I’m not a big breakfast person, but I do occasionally make a frittata; it’s easier than most might think (and you don’t bother with a crust like quiche), as long as you have a skillet you can move from the stovetop to the oven.

This Leftover Curry Frittata is simply a frittata made with your leftover curry from the night or nights before.
Here, I used a leftover curry made with cabbage, chickpeas, and coconut cream.
I bet you could even add a bit of leftover rice to the frittata, but rice also makes a nice side for breakfast.

Below are some related posts with preparation details for frittatas and vegetable curries.
Another tip is that I find that frittatas turn out fine with just egg and water (instead of milk), if you prefer to keep it dairy-free (or are out of milk, like me).

Asian-inspired frittatas are nice too, with chinese vegetables and a touch of hoisin and chili garlic sauce. Also, these are a bit less work than Egg Foo Young, that makes a great breakfast and reheats well.

Tomato Coconut Curry

Tomato Coconut Curry

Tomato Coconut Curry

Holy crap, apparently it’s been 2 years since I started this blog, and I haven’t even posted anything yet this year. I certainly have been cooking, and I did make a half-assed attempt at writing posts the last couple months but never published them.  I guess my enthusiasm was low – about blogging, not about life, the universe, and everything. That’s been good.  Anyway, here’s a new curry that I enjoyed and I’ll follow it up with a related breakfast idea.

This is a creamy, spicy curry spiced with the following: oil, turmeric root, black mustard seed, cumin seed, garam masala, cinnamon, minced fresh ginger, garlic, salt (to taste, later in cooking); to prepare: mix spice ingredients in the oil and cook over medium heat until seeds start to pop. Ingredients include: red bell pepper (2, medium diced), serrano pepper (1, finely diced, seeds included if you like it hot; I also added 6 dried red bird peppers), red onion (1/2 large, cut into thin strips), cherry tomato (1/2 pound, whole), water (adding small amounts as necessary to keep ingredients from sticking/burning, perhaps 1- 1/2 cups), green peas (1 cup, e.g., from frozen), fresh baby spinach leaves (1 6 ounce bag), coconut cream (~1/3 can or 4-5 ounces, to desired thickness/taste).

Cherry tomatoes cooking down for Tomato Coconut Curry.

Cherry tomatoes cooking down for Tomato Coconut Curry.

Cook until tender and the tomatoes can be easily mashed.
Add the peas when the curry is nearly done, so as not to overcook them, and add salt to taste.

Adding peas (frozen) to Tomato Coconut Curry.

Adding peas (frozen) to Tomato Coconut Curry.

Stir in the coconut cream and fresh spinach leaves last.

Tomato Coconut Curry finished with coconut cream and fresh spinach leaves.

Tomato Coconut Curry finished with coconut cream and fresh spinach leaves.

While this was being prepared, I cooked brown basmati rice in a rice cooker (cheating… soaked first in water, since this doesn’t cook as quickly as, say, chinese sticky rice), and served the two together for a delicious dinner.

Tomato Coconut Curry served with brown basmati rice.

Tomato Coconut Curry served with brown basmati rice.

I didn’t base this on any specific recipe – it was born of what I had on hand, but if you’d like a more precise recipe, here are two that are somewhat similar:

This is a great curry that is both and gluten-free and vegan. I hope you enjoy it!

Boneless Asian-Style Country Ribs

Boneless Asian-Style Country Ribs with Spicy Cashew Basil Coconut Curry

Boneless Asian-Style Country Ribs with Spicy Cashew Basil Coconut Curry

I am happy to say I’ve just acquired a new vegetarian housemate. Oh, I was quite happy with my previous housemate/friend – also a vegetarian – but he moved back to India a couple weeks ago. In hindsight, it’s obvious that I’d been focusing much more on vegetarian dishes in the blog in past months, in part due to the fact that I wanted to be able to share my meals.

However, last night, I also had some carnivorous friends as dinner guests, so I made a “segregated” meal that it could be enjoyed by the carnivore or vegetarian: boneless asian-style ribs accpompanied by a thai-inspired spicy coconut curry with cashews and whole basil leaves.

The curry is nearly identical to my previous Spicy Cashew and Basil Curry, except that I used coconut cream instead of tahini in the sauce, substituted carrot for red pepper and black mushrooms for baby bellas. (Trader Joe’s was selling quite large containers of whole basil leaves for only $3. That’s quite a treat in the middle of winter!)

The ribs are similar to what might be served in American Chinese restaurants. They’re both convenient to make and to eat, because they bake for just a short time and are boneless.

Country, or “country-style,” ribs aren’t really ribs at all. They’re a leaner cut near the shoulder. (More info here.) But they’re an inexpensive and fair approximation and their awkward shape causes them to often be served similarly to small pieces of rib meat. (I bought 2 pounds for just $4, on a half-price special.)

Ingredients:

  • boneless country ribs, ~2 pounds, cut into strips or pieces of desired size
  • garlic, ~6 cloves, minced
  • hoisin sauce, ~1/2 cup
  • brown sugar, ~1/2 cup, packed
  • soy sauce, ~1/3 cup
  • chili garlic sauce and/or Sriracha hot sauce (optional – I used both), ~1-2 T.

Directions: Prepare a marinade from these ingredients in a bowl large enough to also accommodate the rib pieces, and place the rib meat into the marinade, coating well. If time allows, optionally marinate for 4 hours (refrigerated), as I did here. Lay the rib pieces out on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan or baking dish, and cover with remaining marinade. Cook 20-35 minutes in a 400° F oven, turning occassionally and covering again with marinade. Time varies based on size of pieces and thickness; the ribs should reach 140° F internally. I baked the ribs pieces (~1 inch thick max.) for about 35 minutes total.

These sweet country ribs were delicious and a nice option to accompany a vegetable curry. It might have been luck that the country ribs I bought were quite tender, since I baked them for so short a time, in contrast to the slow-cooker ribs recipes you often see.

So, with the current housemate, expect lots more vegetarian recipes from me… but a subset will still be reserved for us carnivores. :)

Here are the recipes on which this meal was based:

Okra and Catfish Rice Noodles

Okra and Catfish Rice Noodles

Okra and Catfish Rice Noodles

I should really come up with names for my dishes well before I go to post them. Tonight I spent half an hour on this one, only to arrive at “Thai-inspired Peanutty Rice Noodles with Catfish, Okra, Acorn Squash, and Onions,” … way too long.

This may seem like an asian-creole fusion dish, but it’s not since both okra and this catfish (I used Pangasius) are common to asian cooking.  Anyway, the dish is a rather nice mix of catfish, vegetables, and rice stick noodles (banh pho) with a sweet sauce including acorn squash, coconut cream, and peanut butter.

I apologize for the horrible state of the following “recipe,” but I didn’t measure anything and I’m apparently in a narrative mood; you’re probably not going to make this anyway. (That there is what’s called a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”)

First I soaked dried banh pho noodles in water to soften them. Then I baked a small acorn squash, halved with “guts” removed placed in shallow water in a baking dish, for 40 minutes in a 375° F oven.

Meanwhile, I prepared the rest of the sauce: a combination of fish sauce, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, peanut butter, and coconut cream. When the acorn squash was cooked, I scooped it from the skin and mixed it completely into the sauce with a wisk.

In a large pan with canola oil, I fried the catfish (thawed from frozen) and onion strips (thinly cut from half a large yellow onion). Once those were mostly cooked, I reduced the heat, added sliced okra (defrosted from frozen) and fresh thai bird peppers. Once the vegetables were warmed, I added the sauce (~2 cups total) and added the drained noodles to the pan, stirred carefully, and simmered until desired consistency.

I served the dish topped with cilantro leaf and chili garlic sauce.

Okra and Catfish Rice Noodles

Okra and Catfish Rice Noodles

I couldn’t find any precedent for this dish in my cursory search for Internet recipes.
Many thai dishes have catfish and others have noodles, but apparently the two don’t usually touch. If you’re familiar with one, please let me know. :)

Cashew Shrimp

Spicy Cashew Shrimp

I just returned from traveling today and decided to make a dinner from the few ingredients I had left in the house.

Ingredients:

  • raw shrimp, thawed from frozen
  • cashews, raw and pan roasted
  • carrot, sliced
  • red jalapeno, seeded and finely-sliced
  • canola oil

Sauce ingredients:

  • oyster sauce
  • water
  • honey
  • rice vinegar
  • chili garlic sauce
  • minced garlic
  • corn starch slurry

Preparation:

In a large pan with canola oil, sauté sliced carrot and jalapeno until carrot is mostly the desired tenderness. Add shrimp and cook just a couple minutes until almost finished. Add cashews, turn off heat and pour on sauce, mixing promptly and thouroughly as it thickens. (Add water as necessary to get desired sauce consistency.)

Spicy Cashew Shrimp with carrot and ripe jalapeno

This is a simple dinner that I was quite happy to enjoy back at home after a week away – and there was no skimping on the shrimp and cashews in my “restaurant.” :)

This combination of ingredients was really good… I bet it would be nice with celery or onion too.