Since the age of six or seven, my phobia of shrimp has plagued me. Extending from dinners with the family to trips to New Orleans, the home of authentic seafood, my fear of this decapod crustacean has been a detriment on my culinary palate. As a pescatarian, it is uncommon for me to dislike such a popular staple in southern culture, so I took it upon myself to expand my horizons and trial myself to find a shrimp dish that even the most avid shrimp critic may enjoy. This is attempt #1.
Curry spice Shrimp with Quinoa
Combining my love for any curry with my obsession with Quinoa, I thought this would be the most proficient combination to mask the horror of the texture and taste of shrimp. The idea was the juxtaposition of the delicates notes and the overpowering spices of the curry will mask the indescribably nasty taste of shrimp, while the unique texture of the quinoa would hide the crunch of the shrimp.
I began by mixing all of my favorite curry spices into a paste with coconut oil. To make sure that the curry was not too overpowering I occasionally added teaspoons of brown sugar, so the shrimp would have an overpowering but not over saturated taste to them. I accidentally put in red curry spice, so I had to match that part with original curry spice, but honestly, I think it added to the richness of the paste and made it a dark burgundy which I enjoyed.
In the photo, the paste seems to be a poop-ish brown that does not seem very appetizing, but in reality, the color ended up being this pumpkin orange due to the large amounts of Tumeric I included.
This was the make or break deal for me. As I pulled the shrimp out of the water they had been defrosting in, I wanted to gag, but I put them down and lit up my stove, as I was more hungry for my first meal of the day than disgusted by the smell of the shrimp. I put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in my pan and covered all of the edges to make sure my shrimp had no opportunity to stick to the pan and burn. Then, I placed all of the disgusting, pink shrimp on the pan and let them cook. I turned around to get my curry spice paste, and I see the grossest thing once
returning. The shrimp were cooking in milk. I know, gross. So not wanting to have wasted my time and effort, I decided to push on. I knew I was not going to eat this weird milky substance surrounding the shrimp, so I drained the pan of everything except the shrimp. I figured that this must have been due to a reaction with the leftover water on the shrimp and the coconut oil when a heat source had been added.
To resume to the task at hand, I started by adding half of my paste, tasting it, and liking it, so I added some more. Then, noticing how the caramelized sugar was now too much of a distraction from the curry, I added some red pepper flakes to even it out. This. Was. Perfect. People talk about dream dishes, but this was my dream curry. I was so upset that I didn't have the adequate veggies and a side of salmon to make this the perfect Saturday afternoon meal, but I pushed my fantasies aside and moved on.
At this point, I had reached the endgame, and my shrimp-conquering meal was in sight. All I had left to complete was the quinoa, so it seemed like a walk in the park. Leave it to Ava to mess up such mundane and simple tasks. In my efforts to multitask, I ended up burning 1/4 of a cup of quinoa trying to catch what I had missed since the last episode of Glee, and let me tell you, it was absolutely not worth it.
But luckily, 1/4 of a cup of burnt quinoa leaves you with 3/4 of delicious quinoa. So, I wiped the tears out of my eyes, pulled up my big girl pants, and scooped the good quinoa into a dish. I then added some unsalted butter to the quinoa to give it some of its moisture back, and I was finally ready to plate my meal.
Finally, the moment of truth had come. I had plated my shrimp on top of my unburnt quinoa and topped it with self-grown and dried parsley. As I was already sure that my curry spice and quinoa slapped, the only concerning point was the shrimp. I took a bite, and I thought it was great! I was really proud of the final product, and while there are things I definitely need to fix in the next preparation, I think that this is a dish that can make its way onto my rotation. I am a fool for anything related to curry, so of course, the curry was the selling point for me, but while I could still tell that there was shrimp in the dish, I could appreciate it's subtly and submissiveness.
This shrimp dish was pretty good, and I think that if I can overcome this shrimp-phobia, then I would be an Olympian in Gordon Ramsey's Hell, so if you hear from him, make sure to send him my way, thanks.