Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thai Noodle Bowl with Shrimp

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – May 4, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Every Day with Rachael Ray – May 2011

After yesterday’s post, I realized that I have another continuing theme in the dishes I select – curry.  I’m cutting myself a little slack on this one since it is a soup.   

I love a good soup on chilly days and this one intrigued me because of the rice noodles.  I’ve not been able to find them (or bought the wrong ones which is most often the case) so I was on a mission to find them.  I found them in the most surprising of places – tucked away in a grocery store that has one of the tiniest Asian sections ever.  The rest seemed like a perfect dish for me: the sweetness of coconut, saltiness of soy sauce (even if I used a reduced sodium blend), spice of curry, and tasty shrimp.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Thai Noodle Bowl with Shrimp
On one of the first cold days of fall in the Chicago-area, I’m staring at this picture wishing I had a bowl.  It is a spicy and creamy (yet not heavy) soup with color and texture.  It looked perfect and smelled fantastic.

© Every Day with Rachael Ray
When I compare the two pictures, I think I hit it right on the mark, but yet my bowl still looks more appetizing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a filling soup, but their soup looks more like a thick stew and that wasn’t what I was going for when I decided to make it.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – There is very little equipment involved, but you do have two possibly messy components.  One, you are cooking and draining pasta and the other is peeling the shrimp.  Even with buying the previously deveined and EZ-peel shrimp, there is still always a mess.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND 30 MINUTES – This is one of the first Rachael Ray meals I’ve ever made in less than 30 minutes.  The best part?  It wasn’t even slated as a 30-minute meal.  Go figure.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – Do yourself a favor and buy some deveined and/or EZ-peel shrimp.  The snow peas just need to have the string removed (maybe the ends snapped off too).  No knives are "required" for this dish (but you may wish to garnish as specified and then you'll have to cut the limes and cilantro), which always makes my fingers happy.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – Even with some of the more “exotic” ingredients, the techniques are simple.  Boil and drain some noodles and sauté some shrimp in a sauce.  Simple enough for the novice cook.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – I couldn’t wait to tear into my soup after I ladled it into the bowl.  Just like most soups, it was even better the next day being reheated.  I could have left off some of the snow peas, but overall this soup was delicious.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 1
Timing: None given

Are they serious with the ONE SERVING?  I don’t know if they were referring to one pot, but if one individual eats a pound of shrimp in one sitting, they should be entered in eating competitions.  Depending on how big of bowls you are going to eat, you should get 4-5 servings

I can’t help but laugh that there was no timing information for this recipe.  Ms. Ray screams from the mountain tops about how most of her meals can be done in 30-minutes or for $10 (my personal favorite since she assumes you already have very expensive spices and products on hand).  Very rarely do any of her recipes fit these criteria… and yet I got this one done in fewer than 30.  I guess they were off their ball when writing up this recipe.  Here is how my timing came out:
  • Prep Time: 14 minutes (during which time I got the water for the noodles to boil AND cook)
  • Cook Noodles: 5 minutes (not added to total time since it was done during prep)
  • Complete soup: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 minutes
I know.  I’m as shocked as you are.

Nutritional Information

Oh Rachael… I know that countin’ is hard and all and you have a very busy schedule of thinking up kitschy names for your recipes, but really?  I’m not sure what I expected since she rarely has nutritional information on her site and this particular recipe already had a screw-up with the number of servings, but I just guess I thought she had a staff of people working for her that could handle this.  I write this little ol’ blog all by my lonesome and even I can do this.  So I did.  Here’s the nutritional information based on 4 servings:
  • Calories 369.1
  • Total Fat 23.2g (Saturated Fat 19.1g)
  • Cholesterol 172.3mg
  • Sodium 582.3mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 15.3g
  • Fiber 1.2g
  • Sugar 1.9g
  • Protein 26.9g
Whoooo, doggie… that’s some serious fat content for a bowl of soup.  Actually, the total fat doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that it’s almost all saturated fat.  I tried to make this a little healthier by swapping out the soy sauce for a low-sodium blend and using lite coconut milk.  Here’s the nutritional result of those differences:
  • Calories 237.2
  • Total Fat 7.8g (Saturated Fat 5.4g)
  • Cholesterol 172.3mg
  • Sodium 480.7mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 15g
  • Fiber 1.5g
  • Sugar 3.2g
  • Protein 26g
Holy moley!!!  What a difference a can of lite coconut milk makes!  The other good news is that this recipe is a good supplier of the following:
  • Selenium – needed for normal growth and health. Selenium is needed for certain enzymes that help with normal body functions
  • Vitamin D – maintains normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus and aids in the absorption of calcium (healthy and strong bones)

Changes denoted by red text
4 oz. rice noodles
1 can (13.5 oz.) lite coconut milk
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
1 lb. peeled, deveined large shrimp
2 cups snow peas
Salt and pepper
Cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Ingredient Notes:
Rice Noodles – As I said before, I’ve had issues finding these before, so you may have the same issue.  I found mine with the Thai groceries, but you can also look in the Japanese and Korean sections if they aren’t there.  If you can’t find them, a good substitute is vermicelli or fettuccine.

Lite Coconut Milk – Lite coconut milk has about 60% less fat than regular coconut milk and from what I can tell, doesn’t affect the taste at all.  Make sure you shake it well before opening the can and open it from the side of the can that it specifies.

Low-Sodium Soy Sauce – By going with a low-sodium soy sauce (also known as shoyu) you can lower the sodium content by 20%.  Again, there is no taste difference that I can tell.

Shrimp – the original recipe called for medium shrimp, but I went with large.  Why?  Because I felt like it.  Okay, maybe because I’m slightly lazy and didn’t want to shell that much more shrimp.  Large shrimp are about 21 to 30 per pound (21-30ct) and medium are 31 to 35 per pound (31-35ct)

Equipment Needed:
Scale with washable container
(2) Medium bowls
Small cutting board
Sharp knife
Large saucepan
Large spoon

Equipment Notes:
Scale – I had to measure out the rice noodles to get 4 ounces and chances are, you will have to do the same.  It is also a great way to measure out a pound of shrimp if you buy frozen in large bags.

Medium Bowls – You want one for the shrimp shells and one for the shelled shrimp so you don’t have to hold the garbage can open and try to find somewhere to put the peeled shrimp.

Ordinarily I tell you to prep all of your ingredients first, but since you have to boil water (which adds time to your recipe) you don’t have to start there.

(1)   Start water for noodles to boil.  Prep the rest of the ingredients.

(2)  Cook noodles; drain.

(3)  In same pot, bring 1 cup water, coconut milk, soy sauce and curry paste to a simmer.

(4)  Add shrimp and cook 1 minute.

You want to make sure that the majority of the shrimp has started to turn pink.  Yes, you’ve got several more minutes of cooking, but you don’t want your snow peas to get soggy either.

(5)  Add snow peas and cook to crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

(6)  Season with salt and pepper.

About a dash will do ya.

(7)  Divide noodles among bowls and ladle soup on top. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

I often get snow peas and then regret my decision.  They can be stringy and when overcooked are a nasty mush.  This recipe does a good job of keeping them crisp and fresh and they really add a texture and color to the dish that takes it from good to great.

That being said, if I was going to change anything, I’d cut back on the snow peas.  Yes, they are needed, but there seemed to be a lot of them.  No matter if you like a little or a lot of snow peas, the sweet coconut curry soup will hit the spot.  Enjoy it!  I know I did!

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