Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

IMG_1684We love all different types of food, almost anything Asian – Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Korean you name it we will eat it.  And because these restaurants are not found in our area, I have had to start making my own.  Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

These are Thai Spring Rolls. The biggest problem is getting the spring roll wrappers. A good soul brought me a package from the US and I use them sparingly. The other item I am having a hard time finding is Hoisin Sauce. A while back I could always find it on the shelf in Super Maxi but my past several trips including one to Guayaquil I could not find one jar. Well making Hoisin Sauce will be left for another post.

Shrimp Spring Rolls:

  • 4 dried spring roll wrappers
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of jumbo shrimp (Langostinos)
  • 1 small carrot cleaned and shredded fine
  • 1 small cucumber cleaned, seeded and shredded fine drain well
  • 1/4 package of fine rice noodles, cooked al dente
  • 5 leaves of iceberg lettuce shredded
  • 20 fresh basil leaves
  • 20 fresh mint leaves

prepare shrimp (langostinos) by boiling with the heads on in water infused with seasonings like bay leaf, peppercorns and / or hot pepper flakes for 10 minutes. Drain, run under cold water until cool, clean and cut each shrimp in half. Put in refrigerator until ready to use. Cook rice noodles, cool under running water, drain and set aside. Shred all vegetables and set aside along with the herb leaves. Small individual dishes work great for this.

Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 3/4 C smooth peanut butter (if using unprocessed peanut butter add 1 t brown or panela sugar)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C crushed peanuts
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t hot pepper flakes
  • 3 T Hoisin sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce

Mix the peanut butter and water together over low heat, add the rest of the ingredients once the peanut sauce is blended thoroughly. Taste for spice and sweetness adjust for your palate. The sauce should be thick, sweet and spicy.

Putting everything together:

Clear an area on your counter, clean it and arrange your bowls with the vegetables at the top of the counter. Take a large plate and add water to the bottom of it. Take each spring roll wrapper and gently sprinkle water over both sides. Do not use too much water. This takes a bit of practice. They will still be a bit stiff, they will soften up while you finish all four wrappers. Lay the wrappers down in a row going from left to right. With your plates of veggies above also going from left to right. Start with the wrapper furthest to the left. Placing shrimp in the lower half of the wrapper leaving both ends empty. Do all 4 with the shrimp distributing equally. Then add the leaves evenly over the shrimp, continue with the carrots, lettuce and cucumbers. It works better if you do each wrapper with each additional ingredient this way you will distribute more evenly on each wrapper. Do not overfill the wrappers or you will not be able to roll them. Starting at the bottom or the wrapper peel it off the counter gently, while stuffing the ingredients pulling the sides in until you have a neat roll with all the veggies inside.

Serve with the warm peanut sauce.

 

Viche

What great neighbors we have. This afternoon our neighbor Paola brought us a huge bowl of viche. This batch was made with lobster, shrimp, choclo (corn), small plantain balls and the most wonderful broth made with peanuts. Of course she did provide rice as well.  It is out of this world and Paola is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

IMG_2153We eat like royalty here. Between the kindness of our neighbors like Paola and the bounty we can buy right at our door we are blessed.

We have a new fruta and verdura vendor who has started to come by on Friday mornings. Today he had strawberries, black and red grapes, granny smith apples as well as gala apples and pears, passion fruit, mora, naranjilla just to name a few. He had corn, peas, small and large lima beans as well as fresh fava beans, carrots, red onions, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, two types of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and cilantro.  Next week I will take a photo of his truck and him and his wife.

Feeling very blessed…

La Cocina Ecuatoriana

My Easter gift is this beautiful cookbook. A collection of 278 pages of recipes from all over Ecuador purchased this morning at my gate.

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The first recipe that I will be trying will be encocado of either pescado or mariscos. I miss being able to enjoy this beautiful coconut milk recipe that is not available here in San Clemente. Encocado is an Esmeraldas specialty. We have found it in Salinas as well as Puerto Lopez but so far in our travels around this area the Manabí folks use mani (peanut butter) but encocado (coconut milk) is used further up the coast.

Wish me luck!

Shrimp Roll Supreme

My fish guy delivered fresh shrimp to my gate yesterday morning, 10 to a pound, heads-on beauties. I asked Joe what he thought of a Shrimp Roll sandwich and he jumped on board the seafood train bound for shrimp nirvana.

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Shrimp Roll Supreme

  • 4 fresh rolls
  • 8 oz. cooked shrimp cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped, diced green pepper
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced avocado
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro and green pepper. Fold in shrimp. Cut roll and place avocado on the roll first add shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil in the oven at 400 degrees for about 4 minutes until lightly browned on top. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
NOTE: You may want to try crab meat instead of shrimp and try substituting grated cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan for a flavor difference.  It was decadent!

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Served with homemade bread and butter pickles. Excellent!

Joe the Birthday Boy

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Like most celebrations this past few months, Joe and I tend to always go back to Viviana’s for all the right reasons. Sitting at a beachfront restaurant sipping a cold Pilsener is probably one of the most perfect things on earth to do at this stage of our lives. As you see by Joe’s smiling face he and I are in total agreement on this fact.

Next, the food. Perfection. Yesterdays birthday boys choice was Arroz Con Mixto. This is a rich brown rice packed with your choice of two fresh from the sea treats. Joe’s choice – shrimp and calamari. When he was given his plate Eva the chef had thrown in baby pulpo (octopus) as well. AND papas fritas.

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Now don’t say a word, Joe wanted french fries (papas fritas) but Eva said that she did not have any so he changed his order from Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with French Fries to the Arroz con mixto  dish. But when his plate was delivered Eva had found him the potatoes he wanted…a starch fest for sure. Joe did not complain.

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Viviana and her cousin were out walking on the beach and stopped by to say hello and brought Joe a piece of birthday cake. This was tres leches which is a very rich cake with three different types of cream added to make it even richer.

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Viviana and Joe sharing a hug. She is a lovely young woman, a great entrepreneur and has a wonderful family that is so supportive of her and the business.

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On our walk back down the beach, Joe had to show his cliff diving stance with the beautiful South Pacific sunset in the background.

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What a great way to celebrate a birthday….we need to do this every week. Oh I forgot we do make it our Sunday ritual to visit Viviana’s for a late lunch each week. How blessed are we?

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One last photo of last evenings sunset. Happy Birthday Joe may this year be filled with blessings beyond your wildest dreams!

Fruit in Season Right Now

We are so fortunate to live in an area that has both the abundance from the sea, with an assortment of fish, shrimp, lobster, clams, squid, octopus and many other seafood choices for a seafood lover to revel in.  And so many choices from the land, meats, vegetables and fruits.

Last week our friends made a trip into Guayaquil and on their way back stopped at a roadside stand selling mangoes, yes big juicy ripe mangoes. They, out of the goodness of their hearts, dropped off a few for our enjoyment. They made another trip earlier this week and dropped off a bag of ripe and another of unripened beauties, along with mangosteens and these cute little ciruelas (not prunes but a variety of plum).  OH MY what great friends to be kind enough to think of us while they are out and about.

Mangosteens are very creamy and have some amazing healing properties, I am currently rubbing the peels on any blemishes, age spots (yes, I do have them) and other imperfections, I will let you know how that works for me…

The ciruelas above are sold in little bags on most of the buses. It has a huge pit and they normally salt them when you buy them or in this case give you a little baggie of salt. Very yummy, I have had them before but they were really unripe these are ripe and sweet and a bit soft, I like them better.

Lobster in Paradise

During the week I approached Freddy about getting shrimp.  He walked me down to where the fishing boats are stored one block from our house and asked a woman on a hammock about camerones. She said no and we walked back to the house together. I went about my business and I thought he went about his. About 15 minutes later he shows up with three black plastic bags in the back of his truck. One held 4 lbs of nice sized heads-on shrimp and the other two had live lobsters. Yes, you read that right, three large and about 10 small spiny lobsters all dancing around in the bags wanting out.

I went absolutely crazy wild and he sold me all of this for $27.50.

I packages the shrimp up in three individual triple wrapped package and put those right in the freezer but the lobsters were going to be MINE, hear me, ALL MINE.  Well except for what I shared with Joe that is.  ; ) grin

I know this picture looks strange but I wanted to see the march of the lobsters before I put them in the pot! They did a good job of shaking their tentacles at me but as for the marching not so much!

I had never cooked live lobsters before, you know those frozen tails you could get at the market were the extent of my experience. But I never shirk from a new cooking task and this was just another learning experience for me. On to the internet to find out what folks do with lobster. Boiling seems to be the best way when it comes to live lobster so Joe found my largest pot (remember we are living out of boxes and our suitcases as I really do not want to repack again before moving into our house) I got it filled with water added salt and put it on the stove. As soon as it started to boil I split the lobster into batches and started dropping them in the pot, the little guys put up a fight, one attempted a speedy escape almost jumping out so I had Joe standing there with the lid to the pot ready to push those babies back in the pot if they tried that again.

I must admit that we ate every last bite that night. I heated up butter and made a cocktail sauce and we sat while watching some TV shows on the computer stuffing our faces until our stomachs were ready to burst…it was truly the most enjoyable feast we have had in a very long time.  Thank you Freddy and now I know all I need to do is go to his friend Panocho and he will sell me whatever he has in stock. The blessing keep coming!!!! Thank you