Thursday, July 01, 2004

Shrimp and Tofu in Chile-Lemongrass Sauce


 Posted by Hello

For some reason, we've been eating a lot of spicy food lately. It actually started with this dish, adapted from Fine Cooking's July, 2004 issue. Then came Mongo Jones' captivating blog on egullet which introduced me to the delights of Indian cuisine. Well, i finally got around to making this dish again. The original recipe does not include tofu. I added it this time for several reasons. 1) I really like tofu. 2) To make the dish more substantial (we eat a lot). 3) To help cut the heat. So yeah, this dish is pretty spicy, but it's also pretty sweet. I really love the combination. I do find, however, that I need to drink milk (well, lactaid actually) while I'm eating this. And my stomach does suffer a little bit afterwards, almost like the chiles are eating away at my stomach lining. But don't let this stop you from trying this dish!

Shrimp and Tofu in Chile-Lemongrass Sauce

For the rempah:
6 small dried red Thai chiles
1 sun-dried tomato
3 stalks fresh lemongrass
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1 heaping Tbsp. sliced almonds
6 large shallots, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. fish sauce
2 fresh red jalapenos, or fresh thai chiles,
seeded and sliced

For the Tofu:
14-16 oz. firm tofu
oil
kosher salt

For the Shrimp:
1/3 cup veg oil
1 lb. large shrimp, deveined
1 medium onion, sliced
2 small tomatoes, cored and cut into small wedges
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Rempah: Cut all the dried chiles into small pieces with scissors. Shake out most of the seeds. Place chiles and sun-dried tomato in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 3 minutes until the chiles are pliable. With a slotted spoon, lift out the chiles and place in a blender. Reserve the water.

Trim the root and top section from the lemongrass, leaving a 5- to 6-inch section of bottom stem. Remove tough outer layers until you reach the tender white core. Smash with knife to flatten slightly. Slice cross-wise into very thin pieces.

Add the lemongrass, ginger, almonds, shallots, garlic, fish sauce, fresh chiles, and 3 tablespoons reserved water to the blender, and puree til smooth. You may need to add some more chile-water to facilitate blending.

Tofu: Slice tofu into smallish pieces, about 2"x1" and 1/2" thick. Heat some oil on medium-high in a large non-stick pan. When hot, add tofu. Sprinkle with about 1 tsp. kosher salt. When lightly browned, flip all the pieces over, and sprinkle with another teaspoon of salt. Remove to a plate when lightly browned.

Shrimp and Rempah: In the same pan, heat the 1/3 cup oil on medium. When hot, scrape the rempah into the pan. Fry gently, and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until oil and rempah are emulsified, about 1 minute. Continue frying and stirring until the mixture darken and thickens to a porridge consistency, 5 minutes or so.

Increase heat to medium high and add the onions. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes, then add the shrimp. Stir-fry til the shrimp are just about done. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and lime juice. Stir and cook until just combined and the tomatoes are heated through.

Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

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