Garlicky Shrimp Stir-Fry with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy
I attended culinary school with a truly ridiculous cast of characters.
Just to give you a general cross-section of the “eclectic” student body at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, there was…
A Romanian dude who bought his uniform a size larger because he planned to “grow verrrry large during ze term.” He eventually got kicked out of pastry class for drinking heavy cream straight from a measuring cup.
A Russian man who I secretly suspected was a Liam Neeson-type assassin. He rarely spoke and never, ever smiled. Not once.
A Japanese girl who did not speak a word of French or English, cried in every practical class, and once stole my fish out of the fridge. (The stolen fish may or may not have been payback for the time I almost singed off her eyebrows with my blowtorch, but it was still uncalled for.)
A French stud who caused all sorts of drama within the female Brazilian clique. I can’t be sure due to multiple language barriers, but he appeared to date several of these fiery women at the same time, which did not please them.
A sassy, 23-year-old American who was rather distraught to discover that culinary school was not, in fact, a lengthy exercise in roasting chickens and drinking wine.
Last chick excluded (that was me, duh), I have no idea where the aforementioned LCB personalities are today, but there are a handful of American students that I’ve managed to keep up with in real life and/or via social media, and it warms my heart to see the different culinary paths that each of them has taken. One of these peeps is Elana Karp, pint-sized chef and culinary instructor turned cookbook author extraordinaire.
Elana has been the culinary director at the food-delivery company Plated for the past few years, and she, along with her team member Suzanne Dumaine, just released the company’s first cookbook, Plated: Weeknight Dinners, Weekend Feasts, and Everything in Between.
I had the pleasure of celebrating the book’s launch with both ladies last week over Seasonal Shrimp Tacos and Negroni Margaritas (both recipes from Plated), and I feel the need to gush over their cookbook baby not just as a proud friend/classmate of Elana’s, but because it is a truly gorgeous and impressive addition to my cookbook collection, and you should consider adding it to yours.
Honestly, I consider a cookbook a good find if it contains a handful of recipes that pique my interest, so the fact that I want to make almost every single one of Plated’s offerings (from One-Pan Roasted Rosemary Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables to Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Bowls) says a lot about this book’s standout deliciousness. And what I appreciate most about its 125 drool-worthy meals, sides and desserts is that they actually seem doable. This isn’t one of those cookbooks that assumes you have an Ina-esque lifestyle and 8+ hours to cook dinner for your Jeffrey. The ingredient lists are manageable and include a number of possible variations/substitutions, and most of the recipes can be accomplished in under an hour with only basic kitchen tools.
Elana and Suz know what’s up.
Needless to say, choosing a single Plated recipe to share was rather stressful, but I ultimately settled on this Garlicky Shrimp Stir-Fry with Shiitakes and Bok Choy. I’m a sucker for shiitakes, and one can never have to many festive stir-fries in their weeknight recipe repertoire.
I feel pretty excellent about my choice, since this stir-fry is downright delightful. Dressed up with plenty of garlic, fresh ginger, and a responsible amount of crushed red pepper, its flavor profile is clean and fresh with a gentle kick. One of the only minor adjustments I made to the original recipe was adding a drizzle of honey to the mirin-spiked sauce. Just a couple teaspoons highlight the natural sweetness of the shrimp and balance the earthiness of the mushrooms, but you can always leave it out if you like.
As always, a few you do you options before I leave you…
I served my stir-fry over cauliflower rice because a.) I dig the taste, and b.) naked season is near, but the original recipe calls for basmati or jasmine rice, so feel free to go the carb-y route if you prefer. If you’re anti-seafood or simply don’t feel like shelling out for shrimp, try making this stir-fry with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. (Simply stir-fry the chicken for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through, remove it from the pan, cook the veggies, and then add the chicken back to the pan at the end.) And for those looking to up the fancy, I recommend garnishing your stir fry with toasted sesame seeds or sliced scallions (or both!).
The book also contains an epic recipe for Shrimp Fried Rice, which can be made with this stir-fry’s leftovers, but you’ll have to get your own copy for that…
Garlicky Shrimp Stir-Fry with Shitakes and Bok Choy: (Serves 4)
1 small head cauliflower, florets removed
3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons honey (optional)
1 tablespoon mirin
4 baby bok choy, sliced crosswise into ½-inch slices (keep the leaves and stalks separate)
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Preparing your Garlicky Shrimp Stir-Fry with Shitakes and Bok Choy:
-Start by making the cauliflower rice. Place the florets in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until they become small granules. (Don’t overdo it, people. You don’t want cauliflower mush.) Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the cauliflower rice and cook for 3-4 minutes just until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.
-In a small bowl, whisk the chicken or vegetable stock, soy sauce, cornstarch, mirin, and honey (if using). Set aside. (I forgot to photograph this, so please imagine a small bowl of blondish liquid…)
-In your largest pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bok choy stalks and shiitakes, spreading into a single layer. (It will seem like a LOT of bok choy and mushrooms, but they’ll cook down.) Cook without moving until the vegetables are starting to brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more until softened slightly.
-Add the garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper, and the bok choy leaves and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
-Pat the shrimp dry and season on both sides with salt and a pepper. Add the shrimp to the vegetables and cook until just pink, about 2-3 minutes.
-Push all the ingredients to the outer edges of the pan. Pour the stock mixture into the center, and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.
-Stir everything together to combine and coat, then remove the pan from the heat. Taste the stir-fry and add salt and pepper as needed.
-Serve your stir-fry over cauliflower rice. (You may need to quickly re-heat the cauliflower rice before serving.)
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