A whole weekend on my own, with no one’s palate to please but my own. I was a single girl this weekend, but since I was basically bedridden my adventures didn’t stray beyond my kitchen. So this weekend, I got to cook whatever I wanted- all the goodies that I love that my partner in culinary escapades won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Which means: Shrimp.
My family loves shrimp. In any and every form- You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauteé it (Forrest Gump, remember that movie? No? Rent it immediately). You name it, we love it. You can bet if there is a shrimp option on the menu, at least one of my family members will order it. So it was a given that I make a shrimp dish at some point, I just had to time it right.
The best restaurant on the Island of Maui is A Saigon Café, the best Vietnamese food you will ever encounter. Ask anyone who lives there. It is impossible to find if you don’t know exactly where it is, and it has no sign outside (My mom called it “Opén” for a long time, since the only visible sign was the open sign). To get there, you drive into the creepy area of town, past boarded up buildings and drugged out homeless people, and park on a dark street just under a bridge. But don’t despair, just lock your car and walk inside.
The smiling staff greets you by name, the bright interior sooths your unease. It is always packed- birthday parties, first dates, groups of people eating before they go to the ballet or theater, guaranteed you will run into at least one person you know. The waiters are old friends- trading stories of their families and asking how I am doing on the mainland.
And then there is the food. No matter what you order, you can’t go wrong. My mom and I order about 5 family style dishes, with the intention of taking leftovers home, but it’s just too good to wait. My favorite dish is the make your own fresh rolls, where they bring you the fillings and you roll it all up into a yummy spring roll. While I adore their chicken rolls, I decided to substitute shrimp instead. Though nowhere near as good as their inspiration, they hit the spot.
Shrimp Spring Rolls
For the Shrimp
8 jumbo shrimp, uncooked, peeled and tail off
1/2 tsp chili pepper
1 tsp chopped Sweet Basil
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
salt and pepper
For the Sauce
2 Tbsp Sweet Chili sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Cooked vermicelli noodles
Spring Roll Wrappers
Bowl of hot hot water to cook wrappers in
- Heat oil in a medium hot pan and add shrimp. Add chili pepper, basil, salt and pepper, and rice wine vinegar and cook until shrimp turn pink.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together, adjusting to your taste.
- Chop the ingredients for the filling and arrange on a plate.
- Dip one spring roll wrapper into hot water at a time, rotating until it softens and becomes transparent
- Lay out flat on a plate and arrange fillings in the middle of the wrapper. Fold edges of wrapper over and roll.- Dip into sauce.