i have never been into valentine’s day. i don’t love it, i don’t hate it, i don’t make a big deal of it. but come dinner time, what are a couple of single girls to do? i decided to make a nice dinner for my roommate and myself just for the sake of doing something special. roommates, a glass of cabernet, a great meal, and an episode of alias. oh, and our upstairs neighbor kyle. we shared our food with him too. anyway, made for a great valentine’s day dinner.
the first steps should be done at least a couple of hours in advance so the shrimp have time to marinade has time to sink in. an important ground rule: the first three ingredients MUST be fresh. no dried powdered ginger, no jarred shallots or powdered garlic - they just don’t produce the same flavor. the ginger especially in this dish is so good - don’t hold back.
for the shrimp you will need:
- fresh ginger root - about a 2 inch piece
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds - toasted
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- about 16 jumbo shrimp - shelled
1) heat a small pan over medium heat on the stove. once it is hot, add in sesame seeds, shaking every 10-15 seconds, until they are slightly browned. remove from heat.
2) finely mince the ginger root, shallot, and garlic. place in a bowl and pour sesame oil over it, add cooled sesame seeds, and stir.
3) remove shells from jumbo shrimp, leaving tail shell intact. dry the shrimp thoroughly with a paper towel - this will allow for more of a sear on the shimp.
3) place shrimp in a one gallon plastic bag. add marinade and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. mash ingredients around the bag, making sure all shrimp are in contact with the marinade. let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
4) place the shrimp on a grill or grill pan at high heat. allow them to cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until opaque all the way through. be careful not to overcook!
finished shrimp… mmmmmm. sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
now for the couscous. i just discovered israeli couscous last summer, and i love it. it is big pearls of couscous that deliver the same flavor as regular, but a different texture that is fantastic.
for the israeli couscous, you will need:
- olive oil
- 2 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 c. finely chopped kale
- 1/4 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 c. israeli couscous
- 2 c. bouillon
1) in a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of bouillon to a boil
2) while bouillon is heating, mince the garlic and chop the shallots, kale, and shiitake mushroom caps.
3) in a medium pan, sautee shallots, garlic, kale, and shiitakes until softened. transfer to a bowl and set aside.
4) add dry couscous to pan. allow the cous cous to brown at medium heat, stirring occasionally.
5) add the couscous and contents of bowl to the bouillon once it has come to a boil. stir to distribute contents, turn off heat, and cover. allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, until bouillon is absorbed.