When I invited a friend who’d been sequestered in Honduras (working for this Columbus-based organization for two years) over for dinner, I asked her if there was anything she craved. “I want turkey.” With no time to brine and thaw a whole bird, Thanksgiving style, and a reluctance to serve lunch meat, I went with what is available this time of year: ground turkey. I found a very simple recipe in one of my new cookbooks from a recent gift card-inspired binge at Barnes & Noble.
The cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman, pulled me in because of how it is organized. Each chapter features a category of food: soups, meat, desserts, etc. As you flip through a category, it flows in an ingredient-driven way. For example, all the eggplant-based appetizers are near one another, despite their origin. (Eggplant caviar from France is next to baba ghanoush from the Middle East.) The best part, though, is the index in the back, showing the recipes by cuisine. A book that claims to cover the entire world isn’t going to get in-depth with each country’s cuisine (sadly, no chakalaka from South Africa) but it’s a nice base to discover some of the best-known dishes from around the globe.
Although it’s not very scientific to say so (I’ve only tried one recipe) the book makes things simple. I made minced turkey and shrimp in coconut milk (from Southeast Asia), and it took half an hour; I was able to visit with my friend while preparing the dish. I was happy to use up some of the sticky rice that’s been in my pantry for quite some time, as well. I did omit a few ingredients (because I didn’t have them readily available) and failed to actually chop up the shrimp, as the recipe instructed, but nonetheless, the outcome was good. I’m definitely going to make this again. A new cookbook, quality time with a friend and a way to use up some odds and ends? This meal was a success.
Minced Pork and Shrimp in Coconut Milk
adapted from The Best Recipes in the World, Mark Bittman
makes 4 servings
1 cup coconut milk (I used canned, but a homemade recipe is available in the book)
2 fresh red chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 lb. ground pork (I substituted turkey)
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and finely chopped (I ignored the “chopped part”)
1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
2 scallions, trimmed and chopped (I omitted)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves (I omitted)
Put the coconut milk, chiles, ginger and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Stir in the pork (turkey) and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily. A minute later, add the shrimp. Cook, stirring until both the meat and shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
Stir in the nam pla, then salt and peper if necessary. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with the scallions, cilantro and mint. Serve over steamed sticky rice.