The dressing in this recipe isn’t really a dressing at all. It’s more of an Asian-inspired pesto.
by Tina Martini, The Medicine Chef
We generally associate pesto with Italian cuisine, but, if you look around the world, you’ll find a version of pesto in almost every culture. This one works well as a condiment for the meat, fish, or the veggies of your choice.
- 1 c Roasted Peanuts, chop and reserve 1/4 c for garnish
- 2 Serrano Chilis
- 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
- 1 Tbls fresh Ginger, finely chopped
- 3 Green Onions, rough chopped
- Juice of 2 Limes
- 1 1/2 Tbls Nam Pla (Fish Sauce)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbls Honey
- 1 1/2 c fresh Basil (Thai is preferred), Chiffonade
- 1/2 c fresh Mint, Chiffonade
- 1/3 – 1/2 c Peanut Oil
- Place 3/4 cup of peanuts and the other ingredients through honey in the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse to start mixing, and then let the motor run as you drizzle in peanut oil and emulsify.
- Roll basil and mint leaves into small “cigars” and slice very thinly into ribbons. This is known as a chiffonade of herbs.
- Add the chiffonade to food processor bowl and pulse just to incorporate the herbs.
- Use a light touch, as too much processing and the herbs will turn black.
- Scrape into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, applied directly onto the surface of pesto. Be sure to remove any air bubbles.
- Chill while you prepare and cook your shrimp.
- 1 lb raw (21 – 25 “jumbo”) shrimp, in the shell
- Aromatics of your choice – fresh ginger, garlic, lemons, limes, lemongrass
I always get shrimp in the shell. I find that cooking shrimp in the shell adds another layer of flavor.
- Prepare poaching water in a large high-sided saute’ pan.
- Rough chop any aromatics you have selected.
- Squeeze citrus juice into poaching water, and drop the fruit into water.
- Bring water to a rapid boil.
- Turn the fire to low and add shrimp. Chef’s remember, poaching is a gentle process. Cook the shrimp uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the shells turn pink. Plan for carry-over cooking time as we are not ice bathing the finished shrimp (i.e. Your shrimp will continue to cook briefly after you remove them from the heat. All protein continues to cook if it isn’t quick chilled).
- Spread hot shrimp in a single layer on a sheet pan and cool just enough to peel and clean them, removing the shells completely, including tails, and cleaning the digestive tract (de-veining) using a pointed pairing knife to lift the tract out whole.
- Chop shrimp into generous bite sized pieces.
- Add chopped shrimp to your pesto using a rubber spatula. Fold gently, do not over mix.
- Chill thoroughly.
- When ready for service, sprinkle salad with the peanuts you kept back for this purpose.
Shrimp has a reputation for being high in cholesterol and is generally considered and indulgent food. This gift from the sea is a great source of protein, selenium, and astaxanthin. The pink you see when the shrimp is cooked is the astaxanthin, a very powerful antioxidant that helps sweep toxins from the body. Selenium is an important mineral that slows the aging clock. Resveratrol in peanuts is also valued for it’s anti-aging properties. The remainder of our ingredients are superstars in eliminating inflammation. Basil really helps our joints stay healthy and flexible. Ginger in particular assists in the healing of inflammation, as well as calming spider veins. In fact, there are so many benefits to ginger that I wouldn’t have room for anything else if I listed all of them.
Fish Sauce is the most interesting item on today’s shopping list. Most of us associate fish sauce with asian cuisine, exclusively. Surprisingly, it has a long history, going back to Roman kitchens. With no way to preserve fish, salt fermentation was the best way to hold onto your catch. In Asian fish sauce, black anchovies and sea salt are used. This imparts the highly desired umami flavor. Umami is the mystery flavor in savory food that makes us say,”OMG! This is so amazing!” You could substitute soy sauce, but it won’t be OMG!
|by Chef Tina Martini, “The Medicine Chef” @MedicineChef | Facebook
Chef Martini is an experienced, well-versed television personality with a successful and proven track record. She holds a doctorate from Bastyr University in Naturopathy and a Nutrition degree from San Diego State University. She mixes cooking with nutrition, fitness and wellness!