From Rockville resident Barbara Brynelson: "To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband and I made a trip to Ecuador in January, traveling through the Galapagos Islands for a week. Coming and going we spent the night in Quito at a lovely restored colonial home, Casa San Marcos. On our final night in Ecuador, we splurged on a romantic dinner served in a private balcony table at the guesthouse, overlooking the lights of the city's central plaza.
"My favorite dish was a delicate shrimp with coconut cream sauce served as an appetizer. When I came home, I tried to duplicate the recipe, but my husband thought it was too bland. So I 'kicked it up a notch' with tomatoes stewed with jalapeño, turning the sauce a lovely shade of pink and making it worthy of an entree when served over rice. It only takes a half hour to prepare, and it is a gluten-free dish."
Serve with white rice and grilled pineapple.
- 3 or 4 ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (1 1/4 cups; see NOTES)
- 1 or 2 quarter-size slices of fresh jalapeño pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2/3 cup half-and-half or table cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, sliced from top to bottom into slivers
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (31-40 count)
- Finely grated zest from 1 lime, plus lime slices for optional garnish
- 1/2 cup finely grated fresh coconut, plus more for garnish (do not use sweetened or dry shredded coconut; see NOTES)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the tomatoes with 1 or 2 jalapeño slices (to taste) in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 9 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Discard the jalapeño.
Whisk the cornstarch into the half-and-half or cream (in a cup), then stir into the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 2 minutes to form a slightly thickened sauce. Remove from the heat.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the wine. Cook for a few minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high; add the shrimp and lime zest, stirring to coat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring as needed, just until the shrimp begin to turn pink.
Add the tomato cream sauce, coconut and cilantro, stirring to incorporate. Cook for a few more minutes, until evenly heated through, to blend the flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide among individual plates. Garnish with a bit of shredded coconut and a slice of lime, if desired.
NOTES: To peel tomatoes, use a small, sharp knife to cut an X in the bottom of each one. Drop them into a large bowl of just-boiled water; let sit for a few minutes. You should see the peel start to curl where the X is. Transfer to a bowl of cold water or let cool, then discard the peel.
Grating fresh coconut is worth the trouble for this recipe. Crack a whole one or use a peeled, shrink-wrapped one from the produce department. Remove the white meat (peel off any adhering brown rind) and grate it yourself. Like ginger, it is easiest to grate when the chunks have been frozen.
From Barbara Brynelson of Rockville, who was also a Top Tomato finalist in 2012.
Tested by Terry Tretter.
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