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~ Feel the Heat: Asian Sriracha Shrimp a la Diavolo ~

6a0120a8551282970b017c36393528970b"Fra Diavolo" (frah dee-AH-voh-loh) is an Italian term that refers to a very spicy tomato-based sauce that is used to coat pasta and/or shellfish (shrimp, scallops or lobster fra davolo being the most common).  The word "fra" is short for "fratello" and means "brother".  The masculine gender noun "diavolo" means "devil" or "satan".  Full translation:  "brother devil".  There are as many versions of fra diavolo sauce as there are cooks and chefs who have a passion for devilish spice.  But, traditionally, besides tomatoes, pretty much all versions contain cayenne pepper (sometimes chile peppers), garlic, onion, basil and/or oregano and olive oil.  According to Mario Batali, this sauce is actually an Italian-American creation that is rarely served in Italy.

IMG_0303It's no secret that my husband and I adore Asian food and so do a lot of our foodie friends.  Because of what I do, I keep a very well-stocked pantry and refrigerator in general, and, I'm proud to say: all sorts of wonderful Asian ingredients (Chinese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese) occupy a decent-sized "piece of the action".  Meet one of my Asian shelves.  

IMG_0320Joe and I feel the same way about real-deal Southwestern and Mexican food, and, my pantry is well represented by their food too. Meet one my Tex/Mex shelves.

One can't be passioniate about these cuisines and have a fear of spice or spicy food.  I've dedicated a lot of my foodie life to developing recipes so you can eat them too. All of my recipes (to date) are featured in Category 13:  Love for Tex/Mex & Thai/Asian Cuisines.

The leap from Italian to Asian fra diavolo was a short one for me.

I've made spicy shrimp or lobster fra diavolo for my Italian husband more times than I can count (and that recipe will be a future blog post).  He loves it served atop linguini.  My Asian-style shrimp fra diavolo recipe was not inspired by, or even developed because of, Italian diavolo.  I simply came up with a super-easy recipe for sweet and spicy, devilishly-red, fiery-sauced shrimp (which I served atop a pile of steamed Asian jasmine rice) for dinner one night.  Joe took about two bites and said, "this is as hot as the devil."  I replied, "And that's what I'm going to name it."

IMG_0336For the sauce:

4  tablespoons butter 

3  tablespoons Thai seasoning soy sauce

3  tablespoons honey

10  tablespoons Sriracha sauce 

For the shrimp:

2  pounds extra-jumbo shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined, tails left on or off, your choice 

For the rice:

6  cups steamed jasmine rice (3 cups uncooked rice) (1 1/2 cups steamed rice per person)

For the garnish:

1/4-1/2 cup fresh whole cilantro leaves and 8 lime wedges 

IMG_0330 IMG_0323~ Step 1.  In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the Thai seasoning soy sauce, honey and Sriracha sauce.  Adjust heat to medium, bring to a simmer and continue to cook about 30-60 seconds.  Remove from heat, cover and set aside.  Note:  Sauce can be made several hours in advance of serving.  Gently reheat, stirring occasionally, before using or serving as directed.

IMG_0338 6a0120a8551282970b014e60ec75ce970c-320wi~ Step 2. Using the measuring cup from a rice steamer, place the rice in a colander and rinse the rice under cold running water, moving it around with your fingertips as you rinse.  Set aside, to let it drain a bit, about 5-10 minutes.

~ Step 3.  Transfer the rice to the steamer.  Using the same measure, add the water.  Do not use a standard Pyrex-type 1-cup measure.  Briefly stir, close the lid and turn the steamer on.  While the rice is steaming:

6a0120a8551282970b01761762c846970c-320wi~ Step 4.  Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails on, then devein them.  I ask my fish monger to do this for me!

Note:  All shrimp are sold by weight, so, "16-20 count" means there are 16-20 shrimp in each pound.  This means I am cooking 32-40 shrimp tody, which will be enough for 8-10 shrimp per person!

6a0120a8551282970b0153923421db970b-500wi~ Step 5. Prep the cilantro and one lime, as directed, placing each in small food storage container. Refrigerate until serving time.

IMG_0366 IMG_0357~ Step 6.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Add the shrimp.  When the water returns to a boil, adjust heat to simmer for 1 minute.

Note:  Timing is everything.  If you are using smaller shrimp, adjust it (shorten it) accordingly!

IMG_0375 IMG_0367~ Step 7. Immediately drain the shrimp into a colander and return the drained shrimp, without rinsing it, to the still warm chef's pan. Return the chef's pan to the still warm stovetop and add the slightly warm sauce.  Toss to combine and set aside about 5-15 minutes.

To serve, evenly portion a bed of warm rice onto each of four warmed serving dishes.  Top each portion of rice with 8-10 warm shrimp and drizzle any and all remaining warm sauce over all. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a squirt or two of fresh lime juice.  Open a cold beer and eat: 

IMG_0442Feel the Heat:  Asian Sriracha Shrimp a la Diavolo:  Recipe yields 4 servings and 1 1/4 cups sauce.

Special Equipment List: 1 1/2-quart saucepan w/lid; colander; electric rice steamer; cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides

6a0120a8551282970b017c316b6e8c970b-320wiCook's Note:  I get asked this often: Why do upscale restaurants and shrimp connoisseurs leave the tails on shrimp?  People often complain that the tails are an annoyance. There are three reasons.  #1.  In the event the diner can enjoy the shrimp whole, it serves as a convenient "handle".  #2.  The last bite of shrimp, which is where the meat meets the tail, is the most succulent tasty bite of shrimp.  #3. This is an indication you are being served the best shrimp in the best way possible.  Restaurant chefs and savvy home cooks always adhere to this practice.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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