In a previous blog post titled The Accidental Chef, I talked about how fun it was to be spontaneous in the kitchen. No, no, not spontaneous like breaking into song for no reason (duh!) but more like not planning ahead as to what to cook and just go with what you have in your refrigerator at that particular moment. This exercise is sure to get your creative juices flowing as you try to mate different ingredients together that you would not normally do.
So yesterday was a tiring day for me, having just returned from a short trip to Kittery, Maine (more about that in my next blog posting). It was close to 6 o'clock in the evening, I was tired and I had to come up with something for dinner. Perusing through the contents of my fridge, I was stumped because there really isn't much of anything left. I had some strawberries that were too sour to eat fresh by itself, some carrots, scallions, onions, garlic and really, not much of anything else. The freezer was a little more encouraging. I had some shrimp (with the head on), chicken (plenty of that) plus a couple of pieces of pork. At that point in time, the chicken and pork would take too long to thaw, so the logical choice was to go with the shrimp.
Now that I've settled on the protein, I still have to come up with a sauce or something to go with the shrimp. Looking into my pantry, I spied a can of chipotle and something clicked in my head--a strawberry chipotle sauce. I've never made the sauce before but it's been on my to-cook list for a while. Now is as good a time to try it, right? So here we go!
First, clean the strawberries and puree them in a blender. Add the chipotle (how much depends on how much heat you are looking for), rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar), a bit of sugar, salt and pepper. Heat up a saucepan and sweat some chopped onions and garlic. Add in the puree and cook for 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Now, in another pan, cook the shrimp together with some minced garlic. As this is a garlic shrimp dish, add enough garlic to produce a pungent garlic smell. Bam! I chose to use shrimp with the head on to extract the most flavor. As the shrimp is halfway cooked, pour in the sauce. In time, you will notice that the taste of the sauce will change dramatically as the shrimp cooks. A more savory taste gets added to the tartness of the strawberries and the heat from the chipotle. Finally, before serving, add scallions and some fresh chopped cilantro.