June 8, 2018
As sent: ****
This dish is one of Blue Apron’s new Chrissy Teigen dishes, billed by Blue Apron as “insanely delicious.” It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t insanely delicious, either. Plus, I have some issues with the recipe, because Blue Apron makes some questionable substitutions, such as Worcestershire sauce for fish sauce. Why? It is true that if you aren’t familiar with fish sauce, you might be taken aback by the aroma while cooking, but the flavor will win you over in no time.
Tasting: I really love Thai sauces, like this one that is based on Chrissy Teigen mother’s recipe. In her book, Cravings, Teigen writes, “Fish sauce is salty, stinky, and TOTALLY ESSENTIAL.” (Her emphasis.) Well, apparently it isn’t if it can be substituted with Worcestershire. I know that the Worcestershire brings some salty funk, but the Thai version is so clean and crisp, and refreshing, which is what I was missing in this dish.
The shrimp are cooked to perfection with the method used here, very tender, yet spicy. The rice is salty. (WHY salt rice?).
The broccoli are sort of stir-fried, thank god, and hence not really very charred, but the whole thing is topped with pan-toasted breadcrumbs, which add nothing to the dish, and toasting the breadcrumbs actually takes quite a while.
I liked the dish, but I think I would like the version in her cookbook better.
Cooking: You make the pepper sauce first: minced jalapenos and bird’s eye chilis, minced garlic, brown sugar, Worcestershire, water, lime zest and lime juice all go into a small saucepan. This is an easy first step, then set it aside. Then cook the rice with salt. Who wants salty rice?
Then toast the panko breadcrumbs in a pan with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. This step took maybe ten minutes, and to be honest, I had the heat pretty high under the saucepan. It is labor intensive, since I stirred continuously because I didn’t want them to burn. This step is really unnecessary, since the breadcrumbs themselves are a needless garnish.
Next, put some oil and the broccoli into a pan and allow to cook for a few minutes, then add garlic, red pepper flakes, demi-glace and water, cover and allow to cook. Thank you, Blue Apron, for some actual cooked and not charred broccoli!
Finally, the shrimp, which are added to a pan with some olive oil and allowed to cook for 2-3 minutes. Then soy and garlic are added and the shrimp are finished in 2 minutes. Shrimp this way are not overcooked, and they were the best part of the meal, by far.
Hacking: First of all, let’s get this Thai sauce right. I love this sauce, and it is so good on fish, like Thai fish cakes.
The classic sauce consists of minced chili peppers (bird’s eye, not jalapenos, but that’s a minor quibble), minced garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. The proportions sent here are a bit off: there needs to be a little more lime juice, and PLEASE use fish sauce instead of Worcestershire. Also, add in some chopped green onions and cilantro if you want to.
As for the shrimp, instead of the late addition of the soy and garlic, do what Teigen does in her book, and use these as marinade elements, along with a generous about of freshly ground black pepper. Then cook them on a grill or in a pan—Teigen uses a grill.
As for the breadcrumbs, you could always batter and fry the broccoli. The batter would be equal parts of plain flour and soda water. Dredge the broccoli in this batter and coat with panko, then deep fry until golden. Drain on paper and sprinkle with salt while it is hot. Trust me, these will be addictive.
And please, don’t salt the rice.