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.