Cradle of Flavor

lattbook.jpgToday I spent an hour at Barnes and Noble browsing through the cookbooks. The ones that seemed most interesting to me featured cooking from Asia. Nobu and Masahara Morimoto have incredibly beautiful books about Japanese cooking. But it was James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor, with his account of cooking in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, that was most appealing. What I liked was his description of street-vendor food, full of flavor and easy to eat.

Years ago when I was experimenting with Vietnamese food, I planted lemongrass in the garden. I didn't use it very much, so the plant grew undisturbed until it had taken over most of the garden. Looking through the Asian cookbooks reminded me about all that lemongrass in the back yard. When I got home I cut off a stalk and came up with an incredibly easy to make shrimp dish.

Shrimp with Lemongrass, Garlic, and Bacon

The shrimp can be served with sliced avocado, steamed rice, pasta, or steamed vegetables.

12 shrimp, raw, washed, the shells removed and saved, deveined
1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
1 piece of bacon, finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated, fresh lemongrass
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon nam pla (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt

lemongrassshrimp.jpgIn a small pot, boil the shrimp shells with 1 cup of water until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, then discard the shells. Marinate the deveined shrimp in olive oil, black pepper, and the grated lemongrass. For a Southeast Asian flavor use the the nam pla, otherwise sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the shrimp.

Sauté the garlic, bacon, and shallot in the olive oil until lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the shrimp liquid and reduce by half. Add the shrimp and the marinating sauce to the pan. Cook the shrimp no more than 30 seconds on each side. Serve with the sauce in a bowl.

Serves 2. Preparation Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 5 minutes.


David Latt is an Emmy-award winning television producer who turns to cooking to alleviate stress. He shares his experiences with food and his favorite recipes on his blog Men Who Like To Cook.