Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garlic Scapes

During my childhood, Northern Virginia wasn't the food destination it's now become. Sure, there were lots of restaurants, but the DC area in general was basically a joke when it came to fine cuisine. My father, however, was a foodie through and through before foodie was even a term. Between meetings on "the Hill" and poker games at the Pentagon, he scoured the tri-state area (MD/VA/DC) for tasty food. While there were many awful meals, he often hit paydirt and when he did, he always enthusiastically brought me, my mother and my three brothers to partake in his discovery.

Perhaps the best find of all time occurred when I was about five years old. My father took us to the Peking Gourmet, which, to this day, remains my favorite Chinese restaurant ever. Even after devouring the nooks and crannies of Manhattan's Chinatown, the Peking Gourmet reigns supreme in my heart. Beside the obvious Peking Duck, my other must eat dish at the Peking Gourmet is a unique, but very simple dish called Shrimp with Garlic Sprouts. The restaurant has its own farm out in the countryside where they grow the garlic sprouts just for this dish. Think delicately cooked shrimp sauteed with garlic flavored sprouts. Yum. Yum.

Well, I have yet to find garlic sprouts anywhere, but on Friday I wrote about scoring garlic scapes from my favorite bearded farmers. Garlic scapes are to garlic what scallions are to onions: mild and delicate. Ray Bradley of Bradley Farm in New Paltz, NY suggested I saute them in olive oil and that's when I said, Eureka! These garlic scapes would be my stand in for garlic sprouts and I rushed baby girl home to help me recreate my favorite Chinese dish. Only one thing saddens me: garlic scapes aren't available year-round.

Garlic Scapes with Shrimp and Brown Rice
(One of my readers commented last week that I should look into Slowfood Chinese cuisine. Dear reader, here is what I have for you: a simple, delicious and complete meal that tastes strangely authentic.)

45 minutes to an hour before you want to eat, pour two cups of chicken broth and one cup of brown rice into a small pot. Put it over a high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down the heat so that the rice is gently simmering.

15 minutes before the rice is ready, (Or even after it's done. I find rice doesn't mind sitting and plumping up. Just be sure to turn off the heat and keep it covered.) wash about four handfuls of garlic scapes (They are like long wriggly snakes so just dig in there and grab on.) and chop them roughly, leaving some bits long and curly for effect. Set the scapes aside.

Set a pan over a high heat and pour in two or three tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle about a half pound of shelled and deveined shrimp (I used extra large shrimp) with salt and pepper and place evenly in the pan. Squeeze half a lemon over the shrimp. After a minute or two, flip the shrimp and cook on the other side. Remember, shrimp cooks quickly and needs to be just pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

Throw the chopped up scapes into the shrimp pan and saute for about three to four minutes. Then throw in the shrimp and saute together for another four to five minutes or until the scapes are al dente. Don't overcook them as they tend to lose their garlicy goodness.

To serve, spoon the rice onto a platter and heap the scape and shrimp mixture on top. So simple. While I'm not one for heat, my husband enjoyed it with a little Chili Garlic Sauce by Tuong Ot Toi Viet Nam.

Approximate Dinner Cost
• W/Wine - $21.00
• W/o Wine - $9.00
• Leftovers – We ate this for two nights so expect four servings at $2.25 each. Not bad!

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  1. Peggy, I must say that you have solved the mystery of those intriguing long, stringbean-like green things I spotted at a Whole Foods last week. They called out to me, but I ignored them, knowing nothing about what to do with them. I hope they're still there the next time I go back - this recipe sounds yummy!

  2. I hope they are too! You'll be surprised at how three basic ingredients can make such a tasty dish!



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