Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chili of the Sea

Every time Greg goes out of town, I get big ideas about making good on my threat to paint the office a bright shade of snow pea or subject my temporarily single self to that crazy Master Cleanse fast where the only thing you get to “eat” is lemon water flavored with cayenne pepper and grade B maple syrup. Just imagine the expression on his face when he traipses in from LA or London or wherever to find me bouncing quarters off my abs and the Mac drizzled a nice spring-y green. I must be getting old because this trip, I couldn’t even get it together to apply the purple Manic Panic I purchased on a whim the day after I left. (The sales boy offered to teach me how to bleach out the brunette before laying down my grape streaks, but it wasn’t necessary as nature has already taken care of that step.) A lot of stuff piled up on the table, but not much of it was edible.

I just couldn't get it up to cook anything more involved than mac and cheese on plastic plates, though I did manage to delay the children’s dinner & alarm the neighbors for a good half an hour by balancing on the arms of my beloved 40th birthday chair, photographing a few items I couldn’t resist picking up en route to the Vegetarian Dim Sum House. I'm a slave to art!

And, you'll notice, a green papaya salad, which only set me back five bucks at the Bangkok Grocery. It came packed with peanuts, salt, and a little rubberbanded baggie of chili oil that made me totally homesick for Thailand, until I unwisely upended it over the whole kaboodle, forgetting my gringo origins. To quote Bumblebee Man, "Ay! No me gusto!" Well, actually, I did kind of gusto it, but I'm not sure it was worth the bleeding ulcer it tore into my stomach lining.

Hey, would you just look at the size of that wooden spoon! Milo tried to confiscate it for some yet-to-be-disclosed evil, but I was like, “Take a number, bud.” I got it at this truly amazing restaurant supply I blundered into on Bowery – they had rat traps stored next to mah jong sets and these enormous cast iron woks more equal to the task of stir-frying your average three-year-old... It's called Hung Chong Imports, 14 Bowery. You can even get you one of them waffle iron thingamajigs that makes those mini egg-cakes at once, though why bother when there's a guy selling them 20 for a dollar just up the block?

Well, anyhoo, he's back in town, just in time for me to split for North Carolina, but we did manage to squeeze in some seafood chili. I know, it sounds industrial strength grody, but you don't eat it with your ears, so simmer down. It makes me yearn to be sitting under a palapa out Mexico way and if I could say something in Thai here, I probably would.

Chili of the Sea

Heat 1/8 cup of olive oil the big stockpot that is the sole piece of bridal Calphalon to survive a decade (oh hell, a couple of months) of your cooking with its anodized finish intact.
Add a bay leaf,
2 chopped up poblano peppers (seeds removed),
a small yellow onion, also chopped up,
a tablespoon or so of minced garlic,
1/2 tablespoon of thyme (or whatever that green stuff is that you stuck in an unlabeled babyfood jar last year and eventually started to call Herbes de Provence),
a 1/2 tablespoon of oregano,
1 teaspoon of cumin,
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
and 1/4 cup of chili powder (you heard me)

Wrest your wooden spoon from one of the small elves infesting your apartment, open a window and stir that edible sawdust for a good 3 minutes.

Stir in a couple of soup spoons of tomato paste and cook 3 more minutes.

Add 1 & 1/2 cups of fish stock (which in my book translates to 1 & 1/2 cups of water and a Knorr fish bouillon cube)
the juice of one lime
a cup of canned black beans (rinse the unspeakable slime off first0
a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (if you're feeling gourmet, pay a little extry for the fire roasted kind)
and about ten bucks worth of seafood (This go round, I chopped up a fillet of tilapia, and tossed it in, along with a small container of bay scallops and half a package of frozen salad shrimp.

Get busy with the salt and pepper, then bring the whole shebang to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes over low heat.

Garnish with sour cream, sliced up scallions, a plastic fireman's helmet, whatever says chili to you.

This'll serve 3 adults, all of whom want seconds. If they're still hungry after that, they can start spreading sour cream on whatever they pull from the cabinets, a la Greg.

What's he so happy about?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Salmon and Taters with Dijon Broth

Things just ain't the same without Daddy. For one thing, we don't eat nearly as well. Not that I don't enjoy a temporary vacation from the drudgery of the kitchenette, but just because I canuse his absence as an excuse to sup on nothing but edamame, cheap Spanish red, and the dregs of Halloween candy, doesn't mean I should.

Jesus, he's only been gone two days. He'll come home to find my bleached skeleton, picked clean by the feral young.

Anyhoo, the last meal we shared was a very satisfactory adaptation from this month's Bon Apetit.

Salmon and Taters with Dijon Broth

Boil 3/4 pound of little red new potatoes for about 12 minutes, until you can pierce them easily with a fork. Drain, return to the pot to dry, then cut 'em in half.

Melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of canola oil in a heavy skillet over a high flame.

Season up a couple of half pound salmon filets with salt and pepper, then lay them in the skillet, after four mintues, turn 'em over and let 'em swelter for another two minutes.

Transfer the cooked salmon to a baking dish and surround them with taters.

Slice a big shallot, and boil it in a heavy saucepan with a table spoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of pinot grigio. Let it boogie for the ten minutes or so it will take to reduce itself to a half cup's worth. Breathe in those pleasantly alcoholic vapors and meditate on Anthony Bourdain's comment that the one of the few differences between a professional chef and a talented amateur is the amount of shallots they go through in a week. I think that's what he said. My mother ran off with my copy and when I went back to Zionsville this past Thanksgiving, I noticed it permanently ensconced between Maeve Binchy and When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple. (I like to think that when I am an old woman, I shall wear leather and enjoy the company of men some forty years my junior, but there's no accounting for literary taste.)

Pick up your mental machete and prepare to start bushwhacking away from Bon Apetit's preordained path with 3/4 cup of vegetable broth courtesy of a Knorr bouillion cube and slightly less than a tablespoon of dried rosemary, because Jim and Andy's, the old man produce market was unexpectedly closed (I hope this doesn't mean what I think it might mean) and Pacific Green may be the only game in town to stock poblano peppers but apparently, fresh tarragon is an unknown commodity there, and once you've hauled it 2 blocks over and 5 blocks over, closer now to home than Met Foods, do you really want to retrace your route? Hell, no. Rosemary's great. Wouldn't it be awesome if your old dried-up Christmas tree was really rosemary? Every January, you could sweep up another lifetime supply.

Oh right, the broth and the rosemary. Add them to the sauce pan.

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon? Good, add a 1/2 tablespoon of that to the saucepan, too, and bring it just to a boil, then pour over the the salmon and the taters and put that baking dish in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Five minutes before your timer's due to go off, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet, chuck in a container of baby spinach and stir fry it for a minute to wilt, then divide between two shallow serving bowls. (The only kind of salmon my children will entertain is a la Sven Holmberg, so I only made two portions, but you can double, quadruple, hell, octuple as you see fit.) Top each bowl with a salmon filet than share out the potatoes and broth and for god's sake, don't go prissing things up with a tarragon twig. Don't even wipe the rim of the bowl!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fish Scrapple Jambo

It's rare that I actually invent a recipe. I far prefer to mutilate the published recipes of others, via self-imposed dietary restrictions, lack of essential ingredients and sheer laziness. But, unless it's something I didn't like the first time around, or it's wadded up in an identifiable crumple of tinfoil at the very back of the fridge, I can't bear waste and the other night, Greg came home with way too much raw fish for homemade sushi, even by my ambitiously hoggish standards.

We tried. We each made a valiant effort to eat more than our share. (At 2am, when Greg woke up with bed spins, he immediately leapt to the conclusion that I had poisoned him by intemperate quantities of improperly handled fish. He even woke ME up to see if I was dizzy! I have to say, I wasn't and once I'd ascertained that he didn't have shooting pains in his left arm, I went right back to sleep. If I were a forensic pathologist - and who are you to say I'm not - I'd conclude that he had water in his ear, a condition that often affects those in danger of getting too biggetty about the number of laps they swim at the Y.)

Even after that monster-feed, there was still a good 1/3 of a pound of mackerel and yellowfin tuna littering the counter, which of course made me miss Jambo. No way there'd have been leftovers with that maniac around. He didn't have much to recommend him as a pet, but I'll say this for the little demon: he would never have let me throw away so much as a single scrap of stlll-fresh surplus fish, not when some people in this world are so hungry , they'd eat a fucking computer screen if they saw a picture of food on it, and they had access to a computer.

This one's going out to my home cat Jambo, which is why it shall be known henceforth as:

Fish Scrapple Jambo

Cut your leftover fish using a french fry as your mental template. ( I recommend tuna! And mackerel! Make sure you bone 'em if you haven't already! The fish, not your husband and your boyfriend, though no doubt they'd appreciate a quick ride before succumbing to bed spins.)

Spread them out in a single layer in one of those plaster carry-out containers you can't bear to throw away.

Splash a whole lot of seasoned rice vinegar on them, enough to cover them and get the job done, you know what I'm saying? Remember that scene in La Femme Nikita where they splash acid all over that guy in the bathtub, the one who turns out to be not quite dead yet? Like that.

Sprinkle liberally with soy sauce. Exactly what counts as "liberal" in these troubled times? Two or three tablespoons, I guess, in conjunction with a continuing support of such usual suspects as the First Ammendment, freedom of reproductive choice, funding for public schools, the dream of fully subsidized health care...

Cover and refrigerate until cocktail hour the following day, at which point you will want to line the broiler pan with aluminum foil, and in the absence of a housecat, broil those leftover scraps into a state of extreme deliciousness, all the while insisting that last night's dizziness was a case of swimmer's ear and nothing more.

The end result made me nostalgic for those yakitori joints under the J Rail tracks in Tokyo's Ginza district, the ones where I was in constant peril of igniting my red craft fur purse on a bucket of charcoal that had been set out as a sort of low tech space heater. Greg said he was still to emotionally fragile following the previous night's ordeal to risk poisoning himself afresh, but when he saw me hunched over the broiler drawer, gobbling like an alleycat, he changed his tune pretty darn fast, I'll tell you that!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pad Thai Mi Mai?

Fucked up some Pad Thai last night, and when I say "fucked up", I mean "ate". In my experience it's very difficult to fuck up Pad Thai (in the traditional sense) if you make it at home, though scrod knows restaurants botch the job left and right. Even those gnarly back of the box recipes that call for a half cup of ketchup taste superior to some of the bland renditions I've ordered in NYC.

(Chicago-style Pad Thai is a completely different story, especially if it comes from Penny's Noodle Shop )

Well, anyway, a few days ago I was in the vicinity of Bangkok Center Grocery and there's some sort of categorical imperative which states that if I find myself within half a block of this humble storefront, I have to go in and what's more, buy something. I walked with a cellophane baggie of dried shrimp and some Golden Boy brand fish sauce, which an old man who was approximating the Thai equivalent of hanging around the pickle barrel insisted was far superior to the brand I've been buying for years. I don't know about you, but I can't just sit around idle when I've got some dried shrimp burning a hole in my freezer. So I hauled out my old friend, Hot Sour Salty Sweet and realized I didn't have half the ingredients the authors consider necessary, but what were we going to do at seven o'clock pm? Not eat? I didn't hear any complaints, not even from the feral young (whose portions were fished out of the wok before they could be tainted with dried shrimp.

Pad Thai

Soak 1/2 pound of dried rice noodles in warm water for at least 20 minutes. I suppose any size would work. Mine were the kind that you get in Pho.

Fire up the wok, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or peanut oil, but I hear that substance is too rich for some of y'alls moth eaten coin purses, and anyway, Inky's allergic friend Aeden was spending the night and I didn't want him coming down with a contact high on my watch.) When the oil's hot, add 3 cloves worth of garlic, minced. I don't know if the garlic I was working with last night was Thai elephant garlic or what, but it was GIANT. Rather than stray further afield of the recipe, I obediently chopped up three cloves of the stuff and the results were DEElicious, so if your garlic's dinky, you might want to consider chopping up six or seven cloves. Unless, of course, you're some sort of vampire or vampire lover or something.

Quickly now, because that garlic'll turn to cinders in the blink of an eye, throw in a half package of large cooked shrimp, which you have providently already defrosted and patted dry. Give it a quick stir, and throw in a few ounces of pressed tofu, cut into narrow strips. I know you've got your hands full with that frozen pre-cooked shrimp, so do what I did and use this jive-ass product I originally picked up in a health food store and was later amazed to find at Met Foods. If you can fiiiiind it there, you'll find it a-ny-where!!! Lightlife Smart Strips Chick'n Strips. Could there be a queerer name? (and not in the post-Stonewall, good kind of way.) They taste pretty good though, for what they are.

Given that nothing's raw, go ahead and pour in the three eggs that you've beaten lightly with a pinch of salt. Let them set up and then give them a scramble to assure yourself that you aren't making an appointment with Ol' Doc Salmonella. Dump it into your reserve container and don't worry if it's not going to win any beauty contests. Wipe out the wok with a paper towel to prepare for the next phase of this operation.

Add another 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to your wok and when it's hot,drain the rice noodles and throw them in there. Stir fry them vigorously (or, if you're sticking to the letter of the way I do things, less than vigorously, and be prepared to tell your children that the brown spots are what make it taste good.) Do this for two or three minutes.

Push the noodles up the sides of the wok to clear a space for 3 scallions, which you've smashed flat with the side of your knife and cut into 1 inch segments. Let them feel the awesome power of your flaming hot wrath for a sec, then stir them into the noodles.

Make a little sauce of
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce (you know I never use anything but Kamada Dashi soy)
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
& 1 tablespoon of water.
Drizzle that into the wok and stir! Stir like you've never stirred before!!!
(if you've got picky kids on the premises, here's where to pull out their portions)

Add 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp. (Don't tell my friends at Bangkok Center Grocery, but I think you can skip this step if you don't happen to have any on hand.)

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on top, so this dish will be as sweet as you are (ie. not very, but enough)

Unreserve your egg-shrimp-fake chick'n strip mixture by dumping it in on top of everybody else and putting some elbow grease into it, spoon-wise.

Cut a cucumber in half - save one half for another purpose and cut the other in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon, chop it into crescents, throw it in the wok, give it the briefest of stirs, and turn the whole mess out onto a serving plate.

You can sprinkle it with chopped, dry-roasted peanuts, but we made the supreme sacrifice and didn't, out of respect for our little guest. You can also squeeze some lime juice on there, which we did, but only for the second helping, because the first time around, we forgot.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tofu with Sesame Peanut Sauce

Whoopsie-daisy! Another pristine cookbook from the local library's collection falls prey to my slovenly ways. I couldn't help myself! Everything in there sounds so damn delicious! This one endeared itself to me by devoting an entire chapter to fish, even though its title is From the Earth: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking. Flipping to the back flap, I recognized the author, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo from The New York Cookbook as the woman who squires Molly O'Neill around Chinatown, explaining how to make Peking Duck with a bicycle pump.

The first thing I made after checking it out was "Chicken" with Sesame Peanut Sauce.

Well, actually, the first thing I made after checking it out was pizza, because the kids had been subjected to a long, unrelieved spate of my culinary biases and I felt I owed it to them to make something they'd like. Of course, the only kind of pizza they like is the kind that costs $2 a slice on every other street corner in New York City, so I might as well have served them brussels sprouts. Freaky little ingrates.

So, "Chicken" with Sesame Peanut Sauce was the second thing I made, and with all due respect to Eileen, I've got to say, it's one of the few things rumored to taste like chicken that really just doesn't by any stretch of the imagination. I figured out a really easy way to fix it though, which is to change the word "chicken" to "tofu". Then you don't have to waste valuable cooking time fooling with quotation marks!

Tofu with Sesame Peanut Sauce

Crack open a package of firm tofu, cut it into three pieces, unless it's already in three pieces, and submerge it in boiling water for four minutes. Drain the water out of the pan, refill it with cold water, then fish out the tofu and cut it into 1/3 wide strips or whatever size strips you'd want to eat if you were eating chicken in sesame peanut sauce.

Heat a wok over high flame, add three cups of peanut oil and when it's hot enough to inflict lasting scars, dunk the tofu strips for about three minutes, which is longer than Eileen says, but please, the woman inflates ducks with bicycle pumps! I can't imagine she's that big of a stickler for the rules. Retrieve your tofu strips and drain them in a mesh strainer. It's up to you to decide what to do with all that leftover oil. Maybe somebody wants a massage.

Now for the sauce:
Put 1 tablespoon of tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
and 1 teaspoon of minced ginger in a large bowl.

Bring 4 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable stock to a boil, then pour it into the bowl over the garlic and such. (Given my propensity for cutting corners w/ Knorr bouillon cubes, I made a 1/2 cup of the stuff, then absentmindedly dumped it all in to no detrimental effect that I could glean.) Whisk things to a state of creamy smoothness.
Then add:
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of white vinegar (yes, the cheap kind you use to clean the bathroom mirror)
2 teaspoons of hot oil (mine has a rooster on it and lots of curly Thai writing. I can confirm that it's oil, though, not sauce)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
and 2 teaspoons of sherry.

Toss in the tofu, as well as 1 and 1/2 cups of julienned cucumber and carrot sticks. Give it a stir to distribute the sauce and serve it atop white rice.

Glower at the little freaks when the first bite causes them to make all sorts of pathetic, horror-struck faces. What do they know? Only that they hate that jack ass ginger their mother keeps on putting in the food.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Deep-Fried Tofu and Eggplant

Uncle Stephen filled in for Greg last night while the latter was out seeing "the worst play of his life". (Always a relief to hear I didn't miss out on anything fun...and that we didn't blow babysitting bucks on something sucky.) Now, Uncle Stephen's nothing if not accomodating. He lets the kids crawl all over him, smiting him with plastic swords and giving him all sorts of humiliating hairdos. He wouldn't rat me out to Miss Manners if I served him Jungle Curry in cardboard carry-out containers, but selflessness is a virtue deserving of reward, particularly when it involves hauling a sux-pack and seven Magnolia Bakery cupcakes on public transit in 22 degree weather. In truth, I wanted me some deep-fried tofu and eggplant, and I don't recall seeing it on the menu of any Japanese restaurant within delivery range. Also, I doubt it would travel as stoically as the legendarily un-complain-y Uncle Stephen.

Deep-Fried Tofu and Eggplant

Crack open a package of firm tofu and cut the cakes in half, so that the tops come off the bottom. Elevate one end of a cutting board on a dessert plate or something (ideally, the low end will lead toward the sink). Lay a cloth dish towel over the cutting board, line your tofu pieces up in a single layer, flip the top part of the dish towel down over them, put a heavy cutting board on top - I used a big old cracked wooden one I abused with raw poulty and dishwasher cycles - and get further medieval on that poor tofu with a 28-ounce can of tomatoes or a jar full of pennies or one of those decorative metal dachsunds you're supposed to wipe your muddy shoes on before entering grandma's house. Know what I'm talking about?
I don't have one, but I bet after half an hour or so, the excess moisture would be as nicely pressed out of your tofu as it would have been with a can of tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cut the caps off of 2 or 3 Chinese eggplants. quarter them lengthwise, score their skins in a Harlequin pattern, and chop them into finger lengths. If your eggplant options are limited, the Italian kind will work just fine, provided your lengthwise cuts split 'em into 1/8s or 1/10s - whatever it takes to achieve those pickle spear dimensions. Submerge them in cold water for 15 or 20 minutes.

If you don't have anything better to do, you could prepare your condiments:

Grate a couple of inches of fresh ginger on a really fine grater so you get that juicy mulch - all the fibers get stuck in the holes of the grater.

Chop a couple of scallions.

Now, back to the main event. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in a wok until it's really hot and the whole apartment smells like rancid popcorn. Cut the pressed tofu into triangles - four per slab if your tofu cakes were on the small side (4 to a pack); Six or eight triangles per slab, if you're dealing with the larger 2-cakes-to-a-pack variety.) Shake 5 tablespoons of potato starch or corn starch onto a plate, dust the tofu triangles on all sides, and slip them into your boiling oil! (Poor tofu. It's like some early Christian martyr!) When they're lightly browned on all sides, lift them out of the oil and drain them on paper towels.

Now, squeeze the moisture out of those eggplants like you're wringing some unfortunate water fowl's scrawny neck and throw them into the same bubbling oil to which the tofu was just subjected. A few minutes are all it takes to turn it into something submissive and brown. Drain it on paper towels too.

Get out a small pan and make a sauce by bringing to a boil
1/4 C of soy sauce
1/4 C of mirin
and 1 C of bonito stock

(Back before my first Japanese cookbook was the splattered mess that it is today, I followed the laborious instructions for making first and second generation bonito stock, using bonito flakes, cheese cloth and slimy ribbons of dried kelp. When my Japanese friends found out about this, my ignorance provoked such hilarity, they all but pelted me with tampons. Apparently, the only people who make it that way anymore are me and Reiko's 100-year-old grandma, except that I don't make it that way anymore, not since Reiko turned me on to It's MSG-riffic!
Dissolve a 1/4 teaspoon in a cup of water for this recipe!

Arrange three or four triangles of tofu into a pyramid in every diner's dish (In my humble opinion, this recipe is enough for two, because I don't want someone eating my seconds as firsts, you know?) Shore it up with collapsed eggplant. Dot some of the grated ginger around the eggplant and on the base of the triangles, then sprinkle the chopped scallions hither and yon. Pour the sauce around the eggplant, so the points of the tofu are still sticking up, all crispy-like.

Serve with plenty of white rice on the side, so you'll have something to soak up all that delicious soupy sauce when you've burned through the eggplant and tofu.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Shrimp Banh Mi

I'm having lunch at Doyers Restaurant tomorrow and am growing increasingly all a-slobber at the thought of their Shrimp Paste Grilled on Sugar Cane. This is one of those dishes that I can't even envision making at home, but then again, I never thought I'd see Greg Kotis with a dish towel on his head, rolling up eels and avocados in a bamboo mat...and look what happened! It's all over the goddamn Internet!

Another delicacy I never dreamed could be prepared by a Hoosier-bred home-chef with a puny-ass home-kitchen is Banh Mi, the French bread sandwiches that fattened me up like a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig when I was 'in country'. (Proximity to Chicago's Argyle Street and later, NYC's Chinatown, made it easy to maintain my banh mi physique) ... but then I stopped eating meat (again) - which, while allowing me to make all sorts of high-handed proclamations in regard to the evils of factory farming, had the unfortunate effect of barring me from traditionalBanh Mi, the kind you can get wrapped up with a rubber band for a few bucks at Ba Le Bakery or Viet Nam Banh Mi So 1. For years, I went without, then I read about this place Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches that had just opened up in the East Village and allegedly had a vegetarian version made with Portabello mushrooms. They do and it's great, except it tastes rather overwhelmingly of Portabello mushrooms. I have nothing against Portabellos, except the way their distinctive flavor can only but remind us vegetarians of the delicious original versions we could be eating if we'd only get down off our high horse. And when I say vegetarian, I mean "vegetarian" because I'm one of those who fudges it a bit by classifying fish in the same category as eggplants.

(Mmmm. Fudge.)

All this to say, not only do I now make my own "vegetarian" version at home, using shrimp, I put the recipe in my forthcoming book, Dirty Sugar Cookies. It doesn't hit the shelves until June, though, and it wouldn't be right to put the moves on your tastebuds if all you get out of the encounter is culinary blue balls, so here, in all its soon-to-be published glory is the recipe.

Shrimp Banh Mi

Grate a fat carrot. Sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of seasoned sushi vinegar and then give it some privacy.

Slice half a cucumber movie star thin.

Whittle a couple of scallions into non-uniform lengthwise shards.

Crack open a bag of frozen cooked large shrimp, put them in a bowl, and put the bowl under the tap under a steady trickle of cold water. After five minutes, you can pat them dry. Don’t forget to pull their tails off, because, to quote Lisa Hickey, you don’t want to be crunching through that shit. If you crave warmth or fear bacteria, feel free to squirt them with some citrus and chase them around a frying pan for a minute or two.

Chop a bunch of cilantro (no need to separate out the stems, Dopey) and mix it up with:
2 1/2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons of nonfat yogurt (which will absolve you of any Hellman’s you might have felt the need to sample)
3/4 teaspoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lime juice
and either 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne or a squirt of hot sauce

Bicycle through traffic clutching a couple of whole-grain baguettes. Saw them in half lengthwise, then cut each baguette into thirds, unless it’s just you, pounding down a day’s worth of calories, Dagwood style. (If you heated the shrimp, be consistent and heat the baguettes too.)

Slather the baguette bottoms with a generous spoonful of sauce from the preceding paragraph.

Pour the sushi vinegar down the drain, then divide the grated carrot between the baguettes.

Chuck the shrimp in the remaining sauce, toss to coat, and then, in the interest of fairness, eat enough to ensure that no diner will receive more than any other. If you’re worried that there won’t be enough left to go around, it’s time to start dealing them out (possibly after cutting them in half, to make it look like there’s more).

Festoon with cucumber and scallions, put the lid on, and eat in the company of those who don’t mind if you make a spectacle of yourself. (Serves six, which, in my book, translates to three.)

Speaking of my book, don't those colorful little sprinkles put you in mind of James Frey?