Vietnamese food had very a brief period of popularity here in the Pacific Northwest; it was after Chinese food had already been well-established but before the massive Thai food revolution. Vietnamese food is typically heavier on the meat than other Southeast Asian cuisines. This seafood dish, however, makes a nice, light alternative. Shrimp are cooked with traditional Vietnamese seasonings including fish sauce, scallions, garlic, and ginger. The real key to this dish is the caramel sauce added at the end which gives the dish an unexpected sweetness that contrasts nicely with the other flavors. Although this is a Vietnamese dish, purchase a Thai rather than Vietnamese fish sauce. Thai fish sauces typically have a better flavor. These shrimp can also be skewered and grilled and served as an appetizer in the summertime; simply brush with some of the caramel sauce before serving.
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1/2 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice

Cooking Instructions

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1/4 cup of the water and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil; then turn the heat down to medium and cook until sluggish bubbles form and the mixture has thickened (6 to 7 minutes.) Carefully add the remaining 1/4 cup water and lemon juice and cook until the caramel is dissolved (about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar, ginger and pepper to taste. Add the shrimp and stir to coat.

Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the vegetable oil and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the shrimp, using a slotted spoon to drain off the marinade, and cook until seared on both sides (2 to 3 minutes.) Add the green onions, remaining marinade and 2 tablespoons of the caramel and stir to coat. Stir in the lime juice and serve.

Makes 4 servings



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elliemay's blog

Be extremely careful when adding the water and lemon juice to the caramel. Caramel is very hot and can cause dangerous burns. It's sticky nature makes it difficult to rinse off which is one of the reasons caramel burns can be so bad.

To prepare the shrimp, make a shallow cut lengthwise along the top of each (from the head to the tail). Remove the vein and peel the shrimp, leaving the tail on if you prefer for a more attractive dish. Rinse the shrimp and keep cool in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

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