Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Fennel and Coconut Ginger Shrimp

Let’s talk about fennel! Right around Thanksgiving last year, DFJ talked about how he wanted to make roasted fennel and sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. It reminded him of the fennel we had at a delicious buffet dinner at the Keller Auditorium in Portland before watching Wicked. Before that dinner, I’ve never had fennel and before last Thanksgiving, fennel has never set foot in my house.

Now I know better… fennel is pretty amazing! It’s sweet, savory, and super versatile. You can add it to your dishes for an extra flavor complexity or you can have it be the main star with some seasonings here and there. These are the different ways I have devoured fennel: roasted either by itself or with sweet potatoes, caramelized fennel with goat cheese (from Plenty), and stir fried in vegetables. I also often find fennel bites in my fried rice and pakoras when I eat at Indian restaurants and it always makes me happy. Fennel can also be shaved and tossed in your salads!

When you buy fennel though, they come with super long stalks and fronds. For a while, I have been limiting myself to using the stalks in my vegetable stock for lack of better knowledge. Little did I know until I read this week’s FoodMatter’s recipe that the stalks can be added into pretty much anything we cook, just like we do with celery! They are even better than celery because they are so full of flavor and have a really enticing aroma. When stir-fried they end up adding a lovely hint of sweetness to your food and an extra oomph. The fronds can be cooked as well or used as pretty garnishes. To be honest, I don't think the fronds have much flavor in them, but they sure are pretty.

So, my take on this week’s FMP recipe, Stir-Fried Fennel and Pink Grapefruit with Shrimp, chosen by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, was a little different. I cooked my shrimp separate from the vegetables because I really wanted to try this Coconut Ginger Shrimp recipe from Sassy Radish. Oh my goodness, it was so, so, so good! There is no coconut milk in the recipe but you taste coconut in every bite and the shrimp pieces are so tender. I added more fish sauce and lime juice than was required, just a touch more, and I loved how it turned out. You need to try this recipe you guys, it will transport you straight to Asia!

Then I made some stir-fried vegetables which consisted of so many good things: olive oil, garlic, onion, fennel stalks, carrots, asparagus, orange slices, Swiss chard, spinach, salt, and pepper. I think this was one of my best stir-fry vegetable dishes ever! The combination of all the different vegetables is just so fun. All the ingredients played together nicely and turned out very well. My favorite is the touch of citrusy sweetness that the orange slices added and the savory sweetness of the fennel stalks, the fennel flavor definitely popped out and made itself known. I will have to remake this and document it next time so I can share a solid recipe to all of you.  

I served the shrimp and stir-fried veggies with brown rice and dinner was served. Best dinner ever! It sure made my husband a happy man and I always take so much pleasure in that.

Have a great weekend you guys!!!

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