Photo by Amanda Areias of Give Me Flour via Turntable Kitchen. Her photos are way better than mine! I really gotta make good on that resolution to actually learn photography.
These in-between-things days that I now have are actually pretty useful. Of course, I always see this too late and spend too much time complaining about it. However, these days of unencumbered bliss are soon coming to end and I realized I have to make the best out of them! Like doing things that I would absolutely have no time to do while employed…like actually purchasing fresh prawns from the market, shelling and de-veining them, and making a shellfish stock for a shrimp etouffée! They call this slow-cooking and I kinda have taken to loving it.
I’ve always loved Cajun food, and with plentiful fresh seafood, spices, herbs and a French colonial history in Cambodia, I thought I’d dive right into it; while also keeping in mind that I have actually never purchased, prepared and cooked truly fresh and raw shrimp before. So this video from Epicurious was very helpful.
So early on a weekday morning, I headed off to Psar Tuol Tom Puong to get my bahng khia on (that’s shrimp in Khmer). And good golly, these babies were super fresh! For about $3, or 12000R, I purchased about 2 pounds of fresh shrimp, just trucked in from Kampong Som that morning! (keep in mind that 2 pounds of raw shrimp equals about 1 lb of shelled, beheaded, deveined shrimp) And that’s all I really needed for this recipe! Along with some carrots, celery, onions, green bell pepper and parsley – all of which cost me less than $1.5 at my favourite vegetable stall at Russian Market.
Ingredients – Shellfish Stock
½ onion, chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ pound of raw shrimp in their shells (shells for stock and shrimp for the final dish)
1 garlic glove
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ green bell pepper (1/2 cup), finely chopped
½ stack celery (1/2 cup), finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ stick butter, or 1/4 cup of margarine
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
1l prepared shrimp stock (see above)
1 tsp smoked paprika
Black pepper, salt,
Green onion, chopped
1) De-head, peel and de-vein shrimp, but keep the shells!
2) Marinate your peeled shrimp in 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp olive oil, a finely chopped garlic clove and set aside
3) To prepare Shellfish Stock
– In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, sauté shrimp shell until it turns pink
– Add tomato paste and, stirring constantly, cook for one more minute.
– Add onions, carrot and celery – sautée for a minute
– Pour in 4 cups (about 1liter) of water and add bay leave, parsley
– Cover and cook stock for half an hour to 45 minutes. Stirring occassionally, adding more water if it reduces too much.
4) After stock has been prepared, set aside and start the etouffée!
5) In a heavy skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
6) Add bell pepper, garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
7) Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir well. At this point, everything will come together and look like a thick batter.
8) Add shrimp stock, a bit at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times, until mixture is thick and shiny. Stir in smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Cook for extra 5 minutes.
*** It tastes better if you make this base the day before! The flavours just get together, form loving relationships and release the best flavour possible this way!
9) Add pre seasoned shrimp in hot etouffée and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they curl and turn pink. Just keep an eye on it; you don’t want you shrimp to be overcooked.
10) Turn off the heat, stir in parsley and green onion and serve over cooked rice.
Tomato Paste is painfully hard to find at a decent price here in Phnom Penh these days. If $2.50 seems expensive for a 14oz can of tomato paste, you can make your own. Just reduce a purée of tomatoes or cheap tomato sauce over low-medium heat until it becomes a tomato-paste-like consistency.
Smoked Paprika may also be hard to come by. To compensate, we used the Hungarian/Sweet Paprika that we had around and added some chili powder for heat.
All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff. Please do not reproduce or use without permission).