Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer Breeze


Mint, in wilted lettuce.


Serrano chilies and sesame chili oil.


Shrimp. On crispy polenta. Everything grilled.

I love the look and taste of grilled lettuce. The lattice pattern comes out with the grilling (or broiling, in this case, but same idea). And the lettuce melts a little into a moist, sensuous wrap, with just a hint of its own flavor.

The mint and Serrano chilies combine to form a wonderfully fresh marinade for the grilled shrimp. With a drizzle of hot sesame chili oil to add dimension and a little more burn.

And crispy fried polenta. One of my favorite things. It provides a nice, light background to this very summery meal.

Serrano-Mint Grilled Shrimp in Wilted Lettuce Leaves on Polenta
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

2 pounds large shrimp (25 to the pound or so), peeled and deveined
Olive oil
Sat, pepper
Sesame Chili Oil
Serrano-Mint Sauce (recipe follows)
Romaine lettuce leaves (1 leaf per 3 shrimp), about 15 or so, washed and dried
Polenta (I used store bought (shudder!), but you can certainly make your own)
Lemon, cut into this slices, as garnish, if desired
Cilantro, chopped fine, as garnish, if desired

Cut polenta roll into ½ inch thick slices. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy sautee pan. Sautee polenta slices over medium high heat (not too hot!) until browned on both sides. Remove to paper towels, keep warm and reserve.

While the polenta is cooking, toss shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or grill over charcoal). Cook under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Remove to a plate to cool.

Place a lettuce leaf on a baking tray covered in parchment paper to that is curls upward. Place 3 shrimp to one side of the leaf. Drizzle some Serrano-chili sauce over the shrimp. Sprinkle a few drops of sesame chili oil on the shrimp. Wrap tightly, tucking the ends under so they stay closed during broiling. Repeat procedure for remaining shrimp and lettuce leaves.

Broil lettuce leaf wraps until lettuce is well browned, even lightly blackend in some places.

Arrange polenta slices on serving plates. Place a few lettuce wraps on plates. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and decorate with lemon slice, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

Serrano-Mint Sauce

1 large bunch mint
1 Serrano chili, including seeds
3 cloves garlic
a 1 inch square piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Let stand for 1 hour to let flavors combine.

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