Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I just read an article about a man in India who created a tree that grows 300 varieties of mangoes.
Although the original tree is more than 80 years old, this man has grafted different mango saplings onto it. It’s kind of neat and strange at the same time.
But, it got me thinking: If I could have one tree in my backyard that could grow 300 varieties of something, what would I want? Three hundred is a big number, and I’d probably get tired of that one thing – even if it were chocolate: dark, milk, semisweet, truffle, bittersweet, cordial-filled, pistachio-topped, caramel-injected, syrup, frosting, nibs, bacon-flavored, powdered, and on and on.
For the first two weeks, I would be in chocolate nirvana, a constant state of bliss. But there is a fine line between swimming in chocolaty indulgence and waking up one morning with a massive, head-pounding hangover and wishing that someone – please, anyone – would grab a turkey bulb baster and suck that sugar out of my bloodstream. I call that killing me softly with cocoa.
No, I think I’d ask for a tree that grew more than just one thing. Maybe a salad tree? Radicchio, romaine, celery, fat croutons, fancy olives, shaved Parmesan, real bacon bits.
I could even go for a Bern’s Steakhouse appetizer tree: a selection of expensive caviars, lump crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, black truffle steak tartare, charcoal-grilled chicken skewers – all ripe for plucking. I guess their dessert bar growing from the back of the tree wouldn’t be bad, either.
But honestly, I think the tree that I would choose would be the frozen fruit daiquiri tree: blackberries, limes, lemons, strawberries, passion fruit, raspberries and a little spout on the trunk that dispenses aged rum on tap. Oh, yes, can I get the deluxe model that comes with a scantily dressed cabana boy to serve me drinks and do laundry?
Husband just chimed in for his request: Can the cabana boy also recaulk the kitchen because that really needs to get done this week. This is probably the only time in my life my husband and I are daydreaming about the same cabana boy – and I’m not freaking out.
Well, if you’re big into variety, and I don’t mean 300 mutations of the same fruit, I know you’ll like this recipe. The fruit salsa is flexible – use whatever fruit you like or what’s on sale. Actually, I think pineapple and blueberries would be great in the salsa. And shrimp? If you don’t like shrimp, substitute with large, dry-packed scallops, chicken strips or thin-sliced sirloin. Instead of carrots and cucumbers, serve with matchstick-cut zucchini, radishes or cooked edamame pods.
There’s one thing that you do have to have, and it’s lettuce leaves that can serve as cups. Boston bibb, iceberg and butterhead lettuce all work great. But wait – I guess if you’re not into cutesy cups, grab any type of lettuce and just make this into a salad!
p.s. If you think I cut those perfect carrots by hand, NOPE! I used the Oxo Julienne Tool $5.99 – totally indispensable in my kitchen and I can julienne an entire carrot or cucumber in 20 seconds:
Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups with Tropical Fruit Salsa
Ingredients:FOR THE SHRIMP:
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
1 head iceberg, butterhead or Boston bibb lettuce, leaves separated into "cups"
Sriracha hot sauce (or any hot chili sauce)
FOR THE SALSA:
1 cup diced mango
1 cup diced papaya
1/2 cup diced kiwi
Pinch of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Tropical Fruit Salsa: Combine ingredients and set aside until ready to use.
For the Shrimp Lettuce Cups:
Marinate shrimp in soy, orange zest, coriander, chili powder and sesame oil for 15 minutes. Skewer the shrimp on bamboo skewers. Grill shrimp on medium-high, direct heat about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Serve with Fruit Salsa, carrots, cucumber, lettuce cups and hot sauce.