What’s a summery, light, lovely meal with exciting, surprising flavor? Look no further. This is it. This is a gold medal summer meal. The first taste of this brought on the (eye-popping, smiling while chewing, can’t talk yet, but when I can I’ll start waxing poetic about this) look that I get when I know some food thing has worked out really well. It’s the simple things that always really impress. Perhaps that’s because they catch me off-guard.
This comes from the salt and pepper chapter of Donna Hay’s Flavors. I used some really fresh and perfect, wild caught, gulf, white shrimp at a U10-15 size. Szechwan peppercorns, cyprus flake sea salt, and rice flour were pulverized together in a spice grinder. The cleaned shrimp were then dusted with the mixture. They spent a scant couple of minutes in hot oil and came out just beautiful with a very thin, crisp coating. The stir fried bean sprouts went just as quickly in and out of a sauté pan along with sesame oil, savoy cabbage, chiles, lime juice, and soy sauce.
I’m still thinking about the flavors as they came together. The sweetness of the shrimp played off that of the cabbage. The mild piquancy of the Szechwan pepper didn’t overwhelm, and the chiles in the stir fry were a nice additional touch of heat. And, somewhere in the shrimp, there was a very subtle note of lemon. I’ve read that some sea salts offer hints of citrus, but I didn’t notice that when I tasted the cyprus sea salt by itself. It came forward though when combined with the pepper and the shrimp. A lot of the credit does belong to the shrimp because it was so fresh and plump and exactly like it should be. Well, there I go with the musings. Try this meal, and you’ll be musing too.
If you’re wondering: what beverage would you pair with a meal like this? You’re in luck, because we conducted another wheat beer tasting and found one to be a very good match for this. This time, we tasted Ommegang Witte Ale which was crisp and refreshing with a touch of acidity. I happen to enjoy crisp beers with shrimp, and this one was extremely quaffable. It scored very high marks, and we may have to ponder a change to our top three favorites. This could appear as a tie for number two after further consideration.