Does this dish look as devilish as it tasted? It still looks tasty damn it. Oh pretty food, how you seared me so.
I wanted to make a recipe from The Spice Bible. The problem? The ingredients. I have many but there always seems to be at least one my store does not carry. In this case? Dried shrimp.
To bring some seafood flavour to the table I decided to buy some squid and shrimp. Before you get all jealous about me living in Nova Scotia and getting fresh seafood, I can’t. At our seafood deli everything has been previously frozen which bites.
When I went to Tian Phat in Bedford, I bought this convinced it was shrimp paste. Yes, that is on the label. What I missed was the text before it, “Fresh chili…” I do not know what was wrong with me, thinking this was just a spicy shrimp paste. I knew there were chilies in it but I also knew that the recipe called for them so I thought I was so smart combining the two.
I brought water up to a boil and then added rice vermicelli and let it soak for 6 minutes.
I cleaned and cooked the seafood and added the “shrimp paste”. When I got a waft of spicy hell in my face as it hit the heat, I knew I was in trouble. All those seeds, all that red. Where the hell was the “shrimp paste”? Apparently it did not exist in this jar.
I thought to myself, Crap! I’m screwed!
I removed the seafood and added some egg to cook and shred into the noodles.
I sauteed some green onion and bean sprouts. Then I added the noodles to the pan.
Of course The Spice Bible calls for homemade curry powder but at this point, I knew I was playing with fire so I just added store-bought instead. It did seem weird to sprinkled it on top. Aren’t you supposed to cook the spices first? I drizzled with soy sauce.
One bite and I almost died. Oh the pain! Stubborn foodie that I am, I refused to stop eating. I hate wasting food and yes, I can be a fiscal idiot. I did remove the seeds and the chilies but it did not matter. I was in hell. And it kept getting worse. Absolutely on fire, I thought I was going to die.
I started to get chest pains. I quickly ran upstairs to the kitchen and got some milk. It helped soothe my mouth but the chest pains continued for at least an hour. Hell. Absolute hell!
Not Giving Up!
This was my worst-case scenario. I am terrified of spicy food for exactly the impact it had on me but I wanted to be fearless and try and do something different which meant my seared mouth paid the price. Thankfully the chest pains eventually stopped.
The next day I had some seafood leftover which I ran under water first to try and remove some of that horrible heat. Then I added some oil to a pan, some curry paste and warmed up the seafood and egg in that instead. I added the noodles and drizzled with more soy sauce.
It was still hot but not Beelzebub’s got your tongue and is searing it against the coals of Hell hot. As a result, I could actually taste the food this time. It was… OK. All that for just OK. Without dried shrimp and homemade curry, I am sure so much is missing. I can make the curry but there is not much I can do about the dried shrimp.
Without being able to drive, if it is not at a big box chain store, I just can not get it. Finding inspiration from The Spice Bible may prove more difficult than I had originally thought.
Keep at it! And you can find inspiration, no doubt. Exact replication, well, that’s hard to do in any recipe, let alone an exotic one 🙂
crap!!! sounds like you almost killed yourself. I love love love Asian food but i refuse to make things too hot. if it turns out tooooo hot,it has to go in the trash. i hate to waste but to burn your ass later will just be so much more worse.
Lyndsay Wells says
You made me laugh – not at you, but because I could see myself doing that. And the Beelzebub spice comparison was just plain funny!
Suzie Ridler says
Not to worry! I invested in this book, I will figure something to make, LOL.
BoholstWife, yup, it was pretty scary and horrid and I was running around expecting flames to come out of my mouth. Normally I am pretty smart when it comes to spice but sometimes I get a blind spot. Have to pick up some shrimp paste when I am in Toronto I think
Lyndsay, no, that’s good! This blog is all about foodie therapy and laughter is a good thing. Thank you, I will take that all as a compliment to my story telling abilities. Glad no one else had to physically suffer than just me.
I guess the jar you bought had way more chili than shrimp paste, poor you…my eyes were tearing up just thinking about the “heat pain” you experienced. OUCH!!!
I’ve never heard of shrimp paste before, sounds like it would be pretty fishy. I’m sure you’ll easily find it at an Asian/Chinatown type of market. I think a translation of the ingredients would’ve been helpful when you picked up this jar from hell.
As hellish as your noodles turned out, they still look pretty darn tasty, very awesome foodie photo as always.
Melissa A says
There are places to get fresh seafood, but you have to be willing to leave the grocery store. Though to be honest, I live right in the city and am still too lazy to go to the market 😉
Robin E. H. Ove says
you get big points for persistance in the face of physical pain! You’re right that food should not hurt you and that was some clever thinking to try a make up do with what you have.
You can find dried shrimp online for pretty cheap since you cannot find it locally. Here’s one source http://importfood.com/spds0401.html
Cheers to your next Spicy adventure.
It may have been inedible but, by golly, the pictures are great!
Suzie – love your blog, well written, so honest and living right here in NS! Well done, I read your piece every morning before going to work. Thanks for exploring… every time it is something different, a product, a food, a technique, always makes for something well worth reading.
Take care and if there is some way to support you let me know
I love reading a food post where everything doesn’t turn out perfectly. It’s so refreshing!
Your experience reminded me of a joke I heard:
What’s the difference between eating Vindaloo curry and breaking up with your girlfriend? When you break up with your girlfriend the bottom drops out of your world. When you eat Vindaloo curry the world drops out of your bottom.