Elevated Leftovers: Fiery Ginger Bourbon Shrimp and Rice - The Whiskey Wash

Elevated Leftovers: Fiery Ginger Bourbon Shrimp and Rice

By David Frick / April 16, 2019

I grew up in a family of four kids and two working parents. Each of us kids was pretty active with sports, band, and scouting activities, but Mom and Dad managed to get us all together for dinner at least a couple times throughout the week. This instilled a strong sense of family as well as a bond with food made at home that each of us continues today.

Despite the fact that four growing children can consume unfathomable amounts of food, we always seemed to have at least one or two servings to be saved for the next day. Dishes like lasagna, meatloaf, chili, and stews were stored as they were. But meals of rice, veggies, and meat were stored separately and ready to reassemble before reheating.

One way I learned to enjoy left-overs was by re-purposing the elements – especially rice – with new elements. I continue the idea as a form of meal-preparation for MY growing family. A large batch of rice (6-8 servings) takes about the same time to cook as a small (2-3 servings) and eliminates most of the clean-up throughout the week.

This particular recipe started with some left-over red beans and rice that was served with roasted pork tenderloin. I added the remaining shelled and de-veined shrimp from my freezer (about 3/4 lb), some basic spices, and Old Forester Bourbon. Feel free to use this recipe to dress up grits, couscous, white rice, brown rice, or any similar grain you prefer.

Since re-heating rice can leave it particularly dry, I wanted a thin, but very flavorful sauce that would help refresh the rice in this application.

To cook the shrimp, I used a flambé technique where the alcohol vapors are ignited. Always remove the pan from the heat when adding alcohol. If using a gas cooktop, gently tilt the pan towards the flame until the vapors ignite, then return the pan to the heat. For electric/induction burners, I find an extended lighter for grills is best to ignite while keeping hands at safe distance.

Always also keep a snug-fitting lid handy to extinguish such flames – NEVER water.

image via David Frick

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp each: Ground ginger, garlic powder, celery seed, dried oregano, kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp: Cayenne pepper
  • Add fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp each butter (unsalted) and coconut oil
  • 1 oz Old Forester Bourbon
  • 3/4 pound thawed (from frozen) shelled, wild-caught shrimp

METHOD:

1: Thaw shrimp in warm water for 5-10 minutes and pat dry with paper towel.

2: Combine and grind all herbs and spices. Grinding helps release essential oils, blend flavors together, and allow for consistent application to shrimp. I recommend a mortise and pestle or dedicated coffee grinder.

3: Heavily dust both sides of the shrimp before cooking

4: Using a 8-10” sauté pan, combine both oils and heat over medium-medium high (coconut oil is solid at room temp) until mixed together.

5: Quickly place shrimp in pan (starting with largest first) and cook for 4 minutes.

6: Flip shrimp, remove from heat, add bourbon (will create LOTS of splatter), ignite, return to heat, and let vapors cook off (should take about 90 seconds of mesmerizing orange flame that extends about 10” above pan). Cover with lid and remove from heat.

7: Re-heat rice in microwave (using vessel you intend to use for eating). My microwave does it perfectly at 30-45 seconds.

8: Pour shrimp and sauce over rice

9: Garnish with a squeeze from lime wedge and ENJOY!

RESULTS:

The dish has hints of tropical flavors mixed with balanced heat that makes it great for warming up a chilly winter day just as well as a light summer-plate. The richness of coconut oil and butter give a substantial base to the sauce and serves as a flavor foundation while the oregano and celery seed add a subtle complexity. Though they don’t get specifically noticed, the dish isn’t the same without them.

The stars of the dish are the trio of spicy heat from cayenne, ginger, and bourbon that fills your nose and mouth with a flavor that is robust, yet quick and enjoyable. It might make your nose run a little, but it does not register very high on any spice intensity level.