My Calphalon Contest Entry with Chipotle-Tamarind Shrimp Tacos
I’ve had a thing for shrimp this year. I guess not really just this year, more like ever since I “discovered” the Korean supermarkets in town. The fish, plentiful and fresh, swimming around in a wall of sparkling clean tanks is quite a sight to see in a local supermarket and the bins with all sizes of shrimp sitting on refrigerated tables immersed in ice with scoops and plastic bags at the ready for customers to dive into is always inviting.
That in mind, when I learned about the Calphalon contest for Williams-Sonoma employees I knew just what I was going to do and it involved shrimp and a grill pan. Specifically the new Calphalon Kabob pan. Save that thought for a moment.
I know the shrimp aren’t domestic, heck, it’s tough to find US fished shrimp in our area at all and for that reason the imported shrimp come in well priced; between $4.99 and $5.99/lb. for medium shrimp. Then again, it’s likely US fished shrimp is about to sky rocket and will probably be high for a very long time to come. Even if the oil stops flowing into the ocean, it’s not looking good for wildlife in the shrimp fishing region of the Gulf of Mexico. Sad.
Once I decided shrimp using the new kabob pan was on the menu I needed to decide what to do with them. You know planning is not my usual M.O. I’m more the — look in the kitchen and see what ingredients are there waiting to be combined to make a meal with type. But I had a craving for tacos and while fish tacos are great, I’ve yet to come up with a fish taco recipe I’ve been successful with so I thought — ah ha! Use the grill pan and make tacos using shrimp.
I’d never had a shrimp taco before, but it sounded darn good and the convenience of skewering the shrimp and being able to turn them in multiples would make the chore of grilling that much easier. The pan has notches at different levels so that if the shrimp got done before I was ready to build the tacos, I could prop them up in the upper notch to keep them warm. Crafty engineering.
It didn’t stop there. I needed some flavor. I couldn’t call these things tacos just because I wrapped them in a corn tortilla, so what was I going to pull together? I went to the fridge to forage. In front of me sat a small glass bowl with the remainder of a can of Chipotle in Adobo. Smoky peppers in a hot, tart sauce. GREAT! Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Tacos. Yum! As I pulled the refrigerator door closed I spied another, smaller glass bowl. Tamarind paste!
And on the counter was a glass with a small stalk of rooting lemongrass. Score! Chipotle and Tamarind Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Lemongrass and Cabbage-Avocado Slaw. I was creating a Latino/Asian Fusion dish.
I made it once and the result was a fabulous dinner. But it needed work. The texture was good. The taste was great. The meal was delicious. Never satisfied, I decided I needed to try a 2nd time to make the tortillas, the vehicles for getting the shrimp to my mouth easier to handle — the tortillas needed help.
This time I added a side dish; Corn on the cob with butter, salt and queso fresco. Perfect combo. I also decided that instead of steaming the tortillas I’d put them on the grill pan for a little color and a more pliable texture that resisted just a bit when I bit into the tacos.
But wait! That’s not all … I needed a 3rd try so that I could get the measurements right. Remember a couple of months ago when I told you I’m not an experienced or skilled recipe writer? It’s true, but I’ve learned how the process works a bit better now. After reading Dianne Jacob’s posts on recipe writing and the comments that followed, I was much more cognizant of the details of this recipe. I made some major edits using some of her suggestions and garnered great info from some of the comments in response to her posts. The 2nd time around I took a copy of the printed draft into the kitchen with a pen and it lived on the counter, close at hand, at the ready for edits.
And edit, I did. Quarter cups became tablespoons, pinches became definitive 1/4 teaspoons, sugar became tamarind paste and titles changed, and changed again. It’s not easy, this recipe-writing stuff and I didn’t expect it to be, but if I’m going to submit a recipe to be considered for a prize from the company that employs me, I want to be sure it can be reproduced and that it’s a recipe people will have no trouble preparing and serving to friends and family to rave reviews. I had help from a few people. They read, they edited, we discussed and I’m so glad I had their eyes to help ferret out the mistakes — typos, missing ingredients from the list, incorrect measurements, and style.
And yes, it may seen extreme, but we’ve established long ago that I’m a rather competitive type and if I’m going to enter a contest, I’m not going to go 1/2 way. WholeFoods wanted 1 dish for $4.00, I submitted a meal. CNN was looking for a brown bag lunch, I submitted a brown bag feast. I’ve met my goal this time. I’ve submitted a delicious dish that’s sure to please. If I were writing for publication in a cookbook or a magazine or something like that I’d ask for recipe testers, but I kept this recipe close to the vest because – hell yeah I’m competitive and I want to win — for the sake of being a winner.
The recipe’s been sitting here in the Draft Folder for a couple of weeks, but it’s been formally submitted so it’s time to share. Win or lose, this recipe is a winner that I’ll be making again and again. I’m feeling a summer party coming on. What do you think? Worthy of your time in the kitchen?
In 2007 my career with a large, but shrinking high tech Fortune 50 \"left me,\" leaving a void in my life. While lamenting the loss and flying around the world looking for a new career to get married to, I discovered a way to use a familiar outlet during tough times -- writing. My blog-writing morphed into writing about my favorite past time -- Food! I purchase food, sell food, make food, watch food being made, broadcast meal preparation, photograph and blog about food. Like I said; Food! To change this standard text, you have to enter some information about your self in the Dashboard -> Users -> Your Profile box.