Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pink gin, piri piri prawns, PDX

piri piri
Lately, I've read several books in which people drink pink gin. Pink gin. It sounded magical and beautiful so I looked up the ingredients, but they don't sound magical or beautiful at all, which was both disappointing and a relief, because the last thing I need is another cocktail to fetishize.

One of the books in which pink gin gets drunk is Alexandra Fuller's new memoir, Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Like her first book, Cocktails is populated by eccentric white Africans who shoot guns, imbibe great quantities of alcohol and eat very little food. One of the foods they do eat in Cocktails -- or talk about, anyway -- is piri piri prawns. The words piri piri prawns had the same effect on me as pink gin.

But the ingredients sounded a lot better. Piri piri prawns -- which originated in Mozambique -- contains chili peppers, garlic, butter, and big, meaty shrimp. There are recipes in both Marcus Samuelsson's Soul of a New Cuisine and The Africa News Cookbook. Since Africa News is growing on me in a big way (more on that later), I opted for their recipe.

I looked forward to dinner all day long as the the shrimp marinated in the refrigerator. You're supposed to grill them, but I couldn't pull it together for grilling, so I cooked them quickly in a very hot cast-iron skillet and they came out perfectly. But after three prawns, I didn't want to eat anymore. While I love them all individually, I just don't like chili peppers, garlic, butter, and shrimp all together, and I don't know why. Too rich, I suppose, but usually I love rich.

To go with the piri piri shrimp, I served a Sudanese eggplant salad, also from Africa News. It involved frying peeled chunks of eggplant, chilling this grey-green mush, then mixing it with lemon juice, garlic, and crushed peanuts. It sounded so drab I almost didn't make it, but it was fantastic. I would type the recipe into the blog, but I don't have the cookbook with me right now.
Sudanese salad
Plus, despite my high praise, I don't think a single person would actually make it. A shame.

It looks like there's a pattern emerging here:  On another night last week, I thought we were going to love Marcus Samuelsson's lamb stir fry, but it seemed like it really wanted to be stew and we didn't love it.

He suggests serving the stir fry/stew with chunky mashed vegetables, which sounded like a horrendous porridge of sweet potato, carrots, green beans, and chili powder.
chunky mashed vegetables
It was almost as delicious as the Sudanese eggplant salad.

See, you never really know about a recipe until you try it. Almost never. I knew the chocolate rum cake from Samuelsson book would be lovely, and it was.


Although, calorie for calorie, I'd go for hot fudge pudding.

On another subject, I'm in Oregon on a short business trip, if you can call riding a chairlift, drinking huckleberry milkshakes, and visiting botanical gardens "business." If you have any suggestions -- food or otherwise -- for the Mount Hood and/or Silverton areas, send me a note!

7 comments:

  1. We are overrun with eggplants right now so I would love the recipe if you have the chance. And our shrimp didn't go so well the other night either. I'm wondering if it's the shrimp. Thanks for the post--yum!

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  2. I would love all those recipes you rave about! I'm jealous you're in Oregon.

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  3. i would like that eggplant recipe also. i have one looking at me asking for anew way to cook it.

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  4. I'd love to have the eggplant recipe, too. Baba ghanouj is a favorite of ours, and it would be great to have a variation.

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  5. everytime I make eggplant it is always a little bitter...now I am afraid. Speaking of bitter, I did make my own tonic water using this recipe
    http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2008/how-to-make-your-own-tonic-water/
    it does make the resultant gin and tonic slightly pink...it's also worth the effort :)

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  6. The first and last time I tried Pink gin was with a group of friends and we ended up lying on the floor choreographing water ballet routines. There's more gin than pink in that drink.

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  7. I absolutely would make Sudanese eggplant salad.

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