Last week, I decided it was about time that I found a way to use some of the specialty ingredients that have been sitting patiently in my refrigerator or pantry, expiring away.
It takes a sincere effort to use up an entire jar or bottle of these things, before they pass their date. I lamented about this fact when my friend Kristen and I discovered expired and unusable Sriracha in my pantry once when cooking together in my kitchen. I told her I liked having it on hand, but didn’t want to have a full bottle. She is an avid Sriracha eater, so she offered to transfer some of hers over to a small jar for me to have. How great is that? This kind of friendly/neighborly trade makes so much sense to me, and it harkens back to the idea of neighbors lending a cup of sugar. Do neighbors even do that anymore? I have trouble imagining myself knocking on someone’s door to ask for some sugar, flour, sauce, etc., even in my safe and relatively comfortable suburban neighborhood. It would be interesting, though, if groups of people in a local vicinity “went in on” smaller quantities of goods.
I won’t tell you how long past expired the sweet chili sauce was, but unlike the Sriracha, there was little difference in taste, and I searched through the web to find a recipe that could take advantage. Here’s what I settled on.
Spicy Shrimp with Thai Peanut Rice Noodles
Based on recipe found via the Food Network here
~6 ounces rice stick noodles
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce (Trader Joe’s)
1 teaspoon spicy chili garlic paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup broth, plus extra as needed. Use whatever kind you have around–I had an open container of vegetable broth in the fridge, and I thought it worked fine.
1/3 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 -3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 pound frozen raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on, thawed overnight in the fridge or if you need to cheat, carefully thaw in bag submerged in room temperature water, replacing the water as it cools.
Optional Thai Sauce:
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar, white or rice
1/8 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
1 pinch crushed chili flakes
1 small carrot, shredded
Prepare rice noodles according to package directions, placing in a bowl with hot water until soft. Noodles can be al dente since they will be added to the pan and simmered for a few minutes with the shrimp and sauce.
Melt peanut butter in a small microwave safe bowl for 15 seconds. Whisk in lime juice, sweet Thai chili sauce, chili-garlic sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, broth and curry powder. This can be made ahead of time and re-whisked immediately before adding to noodles.
Make optional sauce ahead of time, if using. This sauce is for drizzling over the noodle bowls upon serving. I was skeptical, because it didn’t taste like much on its own, but it does add to the final taste product. Prepare sauce by combining the following in this order: cold water, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, sweet chili sauce and crushed chili flakes. Grate carrot, add to bowl, and stir.
Heat oil in a large nonstick fry pan at medium-high heat. Add onions and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add garlic and sautee for about 1 minute. Add thawed shrimp to hot pan. Cook for about two minutes per side until just pink.
Add drained rice noodles to the pan along with prepared peanut sauce. Cook for a few minute until all ingredients are heated through and rice noodles soften. If mixture seems dry, add 1/2 cup more broth to loosen up.
Place lettuce on serving dishes and top with rice noodles and shrimp. Drizzle with 1-2 Tablespoons of optional sauce. Top with fresh cilantro, if you have it, and chopped peanuts. Additional carrot can also be shredded on top.
Enjoy! Try not to dwell on the fact that you haven’t made a noticeable dent in the various bottles and casks and jars…