Pasta, pasta, pasta. It’s always about pasta, isn’t it? Or at least it seems that way. Pasta and shrimp are a great combination, too. Especially if done right.
However, the mash up I did was quite different, in that the cream sauce found here is actually coconut milk and various spices, versus heavy cream, butter, et al. I was making fried shrimp for dinner and thought it was not a stand alone dish. And the idea of just having veggies on the side didn’t strike the right chord. Pasta was the answer. But fried shrimp in Italian? I think I’ll pass.
I decided to put that lonely can of coconut milk in the cupboard to good use. I mean, I did buy it awhile back with intentions of using it for this very purpose. I just hadn’t had the desire up until now to actually make noodles soaked in the milk.
It’s not a terribly difficult recipe by any means. In fact, the “hardest” or longest part of the process is cooking the noodles prior to combining it with the coconut milk and spices. One could argue that you could actually boil/cook the noodles in the coconut milk, which is totally doable if you’re ready to serve right now. However, if you do as I did and boil the noodles first to have them done, and then need to set them aside while you prepare other portions of the meal, under al dente and rinsing the pasta in cold water removes the starches and stops them from cooking further. Adding mushy, overcooked noodles to the milk base is going to be a disaster.
Seeing as how fried shrimp and noodles aren’t the most healthful combination, I did want to incorporate some vegetables and I think it did the dish a great justice. The zucchini soaked up the flavor nicely and the julienned carrots gave a good, much needed crunch (as if the fried shrimp doesn’t have enough crunch…).
What’s nice about the coconut milk base is that it is highly customizable. I thought complimentary flavors would be ginger, curry, and something spicy, and I was right. I’m not a complete flavor idiot! You can make it spicier, you can keep it mild, you can make it a little more savory with pepper, garlic, or onion, or use red pepper flakes instead of a liquid heat. I chose to crush some peppercorns coarsely over the top, versus cooking with it and I was quite happy with the result. Less of a peppery taste in the noodles themselves (which I think we all know I love pepper), and more of a garnish. Plus, I thought it looked pretty cool just sprinkled on top.
The whole point of this dish, though, is a silky, creamy, mild flavor. You don’t want it so packed with flavor if you’re pairing it with another food, i.e. in this case, the fried shrimp had so much flavor, an overpowering taste in the noodles might have been too much. But packed with flavor can work if it’s the only thing you’re eating. In fact, who wants bland when it’s the only thing going in your mouth? Just remember, whatever flavor combinations you’re deciding to pair should mix well with whichever vegetables you choose, too. Sweet broccoli does not sound appetizing at all. To me, at least. Blech.
8 ounces fettuccine pasta
1 can coconut milk (lite is okay)
1 Tablespoon sriracha
1 Tablespoon ground ginger or fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon curry powder
coarse black pepper
1 medium zucchini, 1/4″ wide slices
1 large carrot, julienned
1. Boil fettuccine to under al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, sriracha, ginger, salt, and curry powder to boiling. The mixture will start foaming and rising rapidly, so be sure to keep an eye on it to avoid boil overs.
3. Add fettuccine, zucchini, and carrots. Stir well into the coconut milk and let come to a boil again, to finish cooking the pasta.
4. Serve pasta and vegetables with a couple spoonfuls of sauce. Top with coarse black pepper.
And if you’re a sick The Fellow™ who can’t taste much, you also put slivered parmesan on it…..