Saturday, December 3, 2011

Restaurant Food

I like to go out to eat almost as much as I like to cook.  The suggestion of a right restaurant makes me abandon even the most tempting of recipes.  I've recently become a fan of Outback Steakhouse.  They have a $6 Mediterranean Chicken Flatbread that is AMAZING with their balsamic reduction and a Gingerbread Cookie Martini that is out of this world.  My kids love steak so we order a little extra food and we are good to go.  They also have a side of sweet potato fries that my husband has taken to making at home:

Sweet Potato Fries

Cut up your sweet potatoes after rinsing them off.  In strips, you know, like french fries.  Leave the skin on, there's vitamins in there.  Or something.
Put them in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil on them.  Toss them until they're shiny and coated.
Lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until tender.
Drizzle with honey and serve warm.


Possibly my favorite chain restaurant is Bonefish Grill.  I first discovered this in Gainesville, Florida and have since come to find out they are everywhere.  Their calamari is among the best in the world (and I have had calamari all over the world) and their signature appetizer, Bang Bang Shrimp, is Un.  Believable.

Recently I had some shrimp in the freezer I needed to do something with.  I originally bought it to "butterfly" it for Ayla's butterfly party.  I'm so clever.  But it didn't happen so I was going to make it for dinner.  The only problem is that my husband doesn't like shrimp. 

You read that right.  Doesn't.  Like.  Shrimp.  And I still married him.

I said, Well, I can chop it up really small and mix it in a spaghetti sauce.....


I can make soup and puree it like a bisque...


I can make it really spicy and mix it with pasta...

'I like Bang Bang Shrimp.  It would be cool if you could make that at home.'

Mission accepted.  One Google search later and a raiding of my pantry, I was good to go.  I'm just sorry he didn't suggest it sooner.

Bang Bang Shrimp copycatted from Bonefish.

about a pound of shrimp, deveined, detailed, and peeled.
panko bread crumbs
sriracha chili sauce
sweet thai chili sauce (I did not have this.  I used extra sriracha and a little honey.)
mayo (I use the half-fat stuff made with olive oil and I think this did affect the taste a little.)
rice vinegar
salt, pepper, red pepper to taste.
scallions for garnish if desired.

You know I don't measure.  Soak the shrimp in milk and dunk them by the handful in the cornstarch.  From the cornstarch, go back to the milk, but ONLY for a second.  You don't want to wash off the cornstarch.  From the second milk bath, go to the panko and toss them in there to get them completely coated.  The sticky cornstarch and milk should make the shrimp really stick to the panko.  This will make it light and crispy even in the heavy sauce.  From the panko go to the fryer.  My husband has worked in commercial kitchens and does the frying for me.  Basically heat up some vegetable oil in a small pot to about 350 degrees.  Drop the shrimp in it until it's golden-ish, but not yet brown.  If you can see any of the shrimp itself, it will be pink.  Fish it out with a "spider" or a slotted spoon.  My "spider" is the perfect size for my frying pot.  I have to put "spider" in quotation marks to calm my arachnophobia.  Set the shrimp on a paper towel to drain while you're frying the rest of the shrimp.

To make the sauce, start with a couple tablespoons of mayo (recipe I found calls for half a cup).  Add sriracha sauce and honey, a splash of vinegar, and salt and pepper and cayenne in small amounts, whisking gently and tasting frequently, until you like the way it tastes.  It should be slightly sweet and pretty spicy, and orangey - pinkish in color.

Toss the fried shrimp in the sauce and devour.  You're welcome.

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