The Culinary Historians of Northern California (aka CHoNC) had their annual Napa dinner party this week. The theme was figs, but I decided to provide a respite from a meal of nothing but ficus by making Goong Waan, Thai sweet shrimp.
(photo by Jeannette Ferrary)
Here I am with my plate of shrimp, flanked by the impish, and highly prolific, author Ken Albala.
As always, the goon waan, were a big hit.
Here is the recipe for your enjoyment.
Herbed Sweetened Shrimp
From the Thai Cooking School at the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok
Recipe edited and annotated by Andrew Sigal
2 cups shrimps, cleaned, heads removed, unpeeled.
3/4 cup palm sugar.
3 tablespoons fish sauce.
2 tablespoons chopped-crushed cilantro roots
[Unless you grow your own, cilantro roots are hard to come by. Substitute the bottoms of bunches of cilantro. Cilantro with roots is often available at Whole Foods.]
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon white peppercorns, lightly crushed.
1/2 cup water.
Melt palm sugar, fish sauce and water over heat until dissolved.
Add cilantro root, garlic, and peppercorns.
Heat to reduce to a syrup. The shrimp will give off a lot of liquid when they are added, so you want the sauce to be quite thick. However, this is a sugar preparation, so be careful about caramelizing or burning the syrup as the water evaporates.
Add shrimps, stirring to cover. Simmer over low heat until the shrimp are cooked and glazed in the sauce. If the sauce becomes too thin, remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and cook to reduce. This is preferable to potentially overcooking the shrimp.