During the next few weeks, just getting ordinary food onto the table may be a challenge. There will be shopping, card-sending, decorating, parties, caroling, (have I mentioned writing?) guests of all kinds, and of course, cooking, too. But the cooking will likely be of the holiday variety, with little time for the fuel-in-the-tank kind. Unexpected dinnertime company may complicate matters, as well. So here’s a dish you can put together quickly and easily, for a few or for many, that will make you feel you have eaten something tasty and sustaining without tying you to the stove for hours: shrimp with garlic sauce. For two people you need a pound of frozen shell-on shrimp (the 31-40 to a pound size) plus sugar, soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, and garlic cloves. You can double or triple this recipe.
Thaw, peel, and rinse the shrimp. Rinse them very, very well! Put them in a bowl and squirt on enough lime juice to wet them all. Get some rice cooking — a cup of dry rice for each two people you are feeding. When the rice is about 15 minutes from being done:
Get some vegetables steaming. Broccoli or green beans go well with this. As soon as they’re cooking:
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a big cast iron skillet. Saute the shrimp until they are just pink. Add a teaspoon of sugar and four tablespoons of soy sauce (I use the low salt kind but regular soy sauce is the standard if you can take the salt content.) Turn the pan down to a low simmer and cook until the shrimp are done, just a couple of minutes. Crush the garlic cloves into the shrimp mixture and stir to distribute the garlic.
Serve the shrimp over the hot rice. Put a little of the juice from the pan on the rice, too. Beer goes good with this. For myself I like O’Doul’s if it’s cold enough (and in a frosted glass).
Later on in the evening when you’ve been wrapping presents forever, or perhaps walking the dog on a night when everything is cold and still and the moon shines through the snow flurries, or watching A Christmas Carol again, you may feel the need for a warming, sustaining snack. But there’s nothing in the pantry but instant cinnamon oatmeal, half a banana, a biggish dab of Hershey’s chocolate sauce, and at the very back of the refrigerator, a squirt or two of whipped cream left over from the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
Here’s what you do: make the oatmeal according to the package directions. Slice the banana onto it. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the whole thing, and top it with the squirt (or two) of whipped cream. (And a maraschino cherry, too, if you have one of those.) Settle back into a comfy chair, balance the bowl of decorated oatmeal on your lap, fire up that DVD of A Christmas Carol again, and enjoy.
The shrimp recipe is good enough for company. The oatmeal one…well, it depends on the company. I guarantee neither one of them will leave you feeling undernourished.