What's For Dinner?: Hawaiian Basil Buttered Shrimp with Black Beans and Wild Rice

I've never been one to follow a recipe despite the fact that I have a million cookbooks.  I've developed a collection of cookbooks over the years and although I don't really follow anything to a T, I do use them often to get inspiration, ideas and to create a new dish out of several recipes of the one thing I'm trying to make.

Some of my very favorite cookbooks are the beautifully illustrated ones by Susan Branch.  I also love Ina Garten "Barefoot Contessa" because although she has a rep for being "too fancy" like her French stuff, she actually tries to recreate fancy dishes in a simple way. So I love that!  Her from-scratch cakes still take me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to make though.  Like 4 hours from start to cooled and in the process of getting frosted and decorated. 

But oh-so-worth-it!

So for dinner I usually just throw things together that I have in the cupboard, freezer and fridge and it's usually never the same thing twice.  Which can be kinda bad since I don't ever remember how or even what I made a week or so before.  A bummer if it was a big hit.

So this is my attempt at keeping a "recipe card box" of stuff I've made that is a hit with the whole family.

Forgive me for not using traditional "exact" measurements.  I typically only measure things out when I'm baking since baking needs to be exact.  Or so I've been told by my very close friend Ina.  ;-)  Which reminds me...I need to book our flights to the Hamptons and RSVP to her garden party...

Hawaiian Basil Buttered Shrimp

-About 20 raw shrimp (previously frozen 31-40 weight shrimp)
-About 1/2 stick of salted butter (Don't use the fake crap. Real is better and better for you too!)
-About 1-2 TBSP of grapeseed oil (I ran out of coconut oil)
-Kauai "Red Dirt" Hawaiian Sea Salt (to taste)...Ok fine, it doesn't have to be from Kauai.
-2 tiny frozen cubes of chopped basil from Trader Joe's. (Those little ice cube tray thingies of crushed basil. They have garlic and cilantro too. Get all three and just leave them in your freezer. They come in handy for all sorts of things when you don't have fresh on hand!)

I actually got the pan too hot because I got side tracked and forgot it was on. Cooking with 2 kids underfoot can do that to a person. Even if your kung fu is strong. So it ended up being "browned" buttered shrimp, which actually turned out quite good. And "browned butter" is totally a thing, so I had that going for me. There is a difference between browned butter and burnt butter though. It's a fine line and once it's's nasty. pan, medium heat, add oil, then butter then Hawaiian salt and cubes of basil and melt/mix together.

Add in a single layer of shrimp in a circle (have flipping tongs and bowl ready!) Raw shrimp cook super fast and that fine line of over-cooking, well it really applies to shrimp* big time!  Following a circle in your pan place the shrimp in the butter sauce noting the first one in. There is usually room left for 3 or so in the middle and I always have to do this process at least twice depending on how much I'm making. By the time you put the last one in the first one should be pinkish already and is ready to flip.  Don't hesitate, just get after it. Flip all over in the order they were placed. After the last one is flipped I usually do that tricky sauce pan flip thing about 3x's-ish because I think I'm a Top Chef. Beware of too much sauce when you try the flip thing though. It can all go horribly wrong if there is any insecurity regarding your skillz or just too much sauce in general.

...Let's see...where was I? This is why I'll never be a good cookbook writer. Too much gibby gab.

Oh yea, if you're too 'fraid to flip then you can use a big spoon to toss them around one last time but then get_them_out!  This method insures that each shrimp is pretty much cooked for the same time and is the same doneness.

Shrimp Tip:
*Overcooked shrimp is tough and rubbery and a waste of good money. You might as well have gotten the fish sticks. In my opinion, if you are going to keep frozen shrimp in your freezer get the raw ones because if it's precooked and you re-cook it, your dish will be rubbery. It's best to start with fresh raw or frozen uncooked.

Side Dish:
The beans and rice is basically a lazy man's version because all the work has been done for me. I use Trader Joe's frozen cooked wild rice mix and a can of their organic black beans. As far as the black bean juice goes I drain some and keep some. Combine in a bowl and microwave. Which I just read in a blog that depressed me that this is horrible and we're all going to die from using our microwaves and we should stop the poisoning at once. My first thought was not about dying a slow toxic death but, "how the heck am I supposed to heat my latte now?" I'm usually a three-time latte heater on any given lazy Sunday. So, please I ask you...beg you really..."how do I heat my latte sans microwave?"  Blink-blink-blink.

Restaurant Stuff:
I like to serve this in a pasta dish - or any type of shallow bowl to keep the sauce on the food and not all over your table and also keeping you from feeling like you are eating a bowl of cereal. Which brings me to the question: WHY do restaurants serve a dry side salad on a tiny plate and it's piled super high and then I'm supposed to add dressing?  I'm a mixer and this is not a good situation to find myself in..... Shrimp dish >> I ladle the basil butter sauce over the beans and rice, top with shrimp and sprinkle some fresh, dry, salty parmesan if I have any.

Kid Stuff:
I cut the shrimp in small chunks after it's cooked and everything is cooled of course and mix with the beans and rice and I might even add in some green peas in theirs too. I know, cruel. I also do not ladle any extra sauce because it's pretty rich and there is already sauce on the shrimp.  My Big Girl who is 4 said at dinner tonight, "I love pork, shrimp, green juice,* and...(yelling) candy!"   Love the "candy" part thrown in there along with an electric, firey-eyed, devilish grin.  The last candy she had was at Easter and it's now June. But even at 4 I still hold fast to my candy and kids rule.  >> There will be a day where I can't totally control what goes into her mouth and as a stay-at-home-mom I have been able to do that almost 99% of her life. So for the baby/toddler/preschooler years I do not feel the need to have regular candy and junk in the house for everyday consumption because someday I know she will not be able to live without it. I remember being 8. It will come all too soon. And I also never had candy and junk as a wee one. I survived. Baby Boy is 20 months today in fact and he loves him some shrimp! "Mo! Mo! Mo! Peeeeeeeeeeeas!"  As he's frantically pointing to the bowl of extra shrimp that is scooting way-to-close-for-comfort next to Daddy. (Peas is 'please' in baby speak in case you are not fluent.)

*'Green Juice' is not the same as 'Green Drink'.  One has high fructose corn syrup and the other one has spirulina.  ;-)

"How easy is that?"

Sorry no picture.  Well cooked shrimp needs to be devoured right away!  Maybe next time I'll have the camera ready along with my flipping tongs.

Let me know if you make it and if it was a hit!

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