Sunday, April 26, 2015

...and we're back, baby!

Tonight's homemade shrimp-and-chicken curry, with a good helping of buttered naan:

Thanks to a nameless benefactor—we'll call him Abel Magwitch—I was given American-style frozen peas, a necessary component of my shrimp-and-chicken curry.


chicken breastuses
large shrimpities
peases, Precious
basil (fresh basil that had been frozen to preserve it as long as possible)
shite curry powder from New Jersey (all that was on sale at the local grocer)
ginger powder
onion powder
garlic powder
Korean chili flakes
black pepper
heavy cream

In a pan, I poured in the remaining heavy cream and added some water, praying that this would be enough for the amount of protein I planned to add: three chicken breasts and two fistfuls of large shrimp. I thawed the shrimp and breasts in warm water, then removed the shrimp tails. By that point, the cream had begun to simmer; I added the powdery reagents, stirring them in with a tiny whisk that I had purchased at a local Daiso in Hayang.

After a bit of simmering, I dumped the cubed chicken breast into the liquid, then the peas, which were still frozen and clinging to each other for dear life. The peas began to drop off the cluster and swim independently in the curry sauce; the chicken cooked at a gentle pace (white meat can seize and dry up quickly if you're not careful—cook low and slow). I added the shrimp after several minutes because I knew they would cook faster; lastly, I threw in the basil, ripping off the stems and tossing in the leaves.

DIGRESSION: You might be saying to yourself that it's a cruel thing to freeze a leafy vegetable like basil: freezing tends to ruin the cellular structure of anything organic because the water inside the cells will crystallize and expand; the dagger-like crystals rip through the cell walls, tearing apart meat and plant alike. (This is, by the way, why I would never trust my body to cryogenic storage: scientists have yet to figure out a good way to freeze and un-freeze a cadaver without damaging its meat.) And I'd agree with you: freezing basil doesn't lead to pretty basil. You certainly can't use it for pesto or caprese anymore. But I knew that the basil I'd been keeping in reserve would be for shrimp-and-chicken curry at some point in the near future; I just didn't know when, exactly, I'd be making it. Frozen basil still has a healthy green to it (except, maybe, for some of the leaves around the edges of the container, which fill with water and turn black before freezing in earnest), which means it's still fit to be used in a hot, saucy dish like my chicken-and-shrimp curry.

Once everything was in the pool, it was just a matter of cooking until the shrimp had lost their gray and had become a satisfyingly fleshy pink. That happened soon enough, and the result was as good as could be expected, given the crappiness of the curry (sweet East Asian-style, apparently manufactured in and imported from New Joisey, of all places). Delicious—and I've got enough left over for lunch at the Golden Goose on Tuesday, which will save me a few bucks that I would normally spend on something unhealthy.


1 comment:

Charles said...

Freezing basil is sometimes a necessity. One trick I've heard about (but have never actually tried) is to chop up the basil, mix it with oil, and then freeze it in an ice cube tray. Supposedly this prevents the basil from turning black. Blanching, shocking in cold water, drying, and then flash freezing the individual leaves before bagging is also supposed to help maintain color. Haven't tried that one, either, though.