Oct 11, 2021

Garlic Shrimp Pasta Bake (with Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone)

The fact is, I was going to make it into a much fancier "seafood" pasta bake, but eventually shied away the hefty price tags. Besides shrimps, my original list of ingredients including scallops and jumbo lump crab meat, I was too naive.


The cost of adding scallops and crab meat can easily top the price for this dish's all other ingredients combined, and way more. Trying to be reasonable when doing my grocery shopping, plus I was only making a regular family meal, not like celebrating or a date dinner. So I gave in. I'll settle with double the originally planned portion for the shrimps instead. That will do.


Garlic shrimp pasta bake with Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone - 


Garlic shrimp pasta bake

Ingredients (about 6 portions)?

  • 300 grams peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 package/500 grams penne pasta
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bundle fennel leaves
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed shredded cheese (must have Mozzarella in it)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Some salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small bundle parsley


How?

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Dice the tomatoes, saving the seeds and pulp also. Peel and devein the shrimp. Juice half the lemon, we need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.


Finely chop the parsley, flat leaf parsley preferred, but if unavailable, curly variety works too. Chop the fennel leaves too, just the leafy part, not going to use the bulb this time.


Prepare a medium large baking dish. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt to the water. Cook the pasta till almost al dente, like still a bit undercooked. Once ready, drain and set aside.


Cooked and drained penne pasta

Prepare a large pan or pot. Add 1 tablespoon of butter along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turn to medium high heat. Add in garlic and cook till aromatic, but not burnt.


Add in shrimps and most of the chopped parsley, only save some for garnish in the end. Also add in all the chopped fennel leaves. Give it a quick stir-fry. Cook till the shrimp just about cooked through. Pick out everything and set aside for later use.


Shrimp with chopped parsley and fennel leaves

Still using the same pan or pot, add 2 more tablespoons of butter. This time switch to medium heat. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk till combined and starts turning into golden crumbs. 


Making a roux for garlic shrimp pasta bake

Pour in chicken stock first, whisk till blended. 


Making a roux and whisking with chicken stock

Pour in milk, whisk till combined.


Transfer diced tomatoes along with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, don't let it starts to boil.


Adding chopped tomatoes to white sauce

Add in about 2/3 of the shredded cheese mix, mine consist of Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone. Wait till slightly melted.


Adding shredded cheese mix to white sauce

Pour in cooked pasta and give it a few tosses. Transfer the shrimp back and mix till combined. Taste and see if need more salt here. It varies depending on the cheese used. So adjust the flavor accordingly.


Scoop the pasta to the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese mix.


Adding cheese mix to garlic shrimp pasta bake

Into the oven for about 8 minutes, plus or minus 2 minutes. Just keep an close eye to it, the pasta is ready when the top turns slightly browned or golden.


Remove from heat and garnish with the chopped parsley we saved earlier.


Garlic shrimp pasta bake

Still happy belly without the scallops and crab meat, perhaps saving these two for a date night in the future. 


Garlic shrimp pasta bake

This leads to my memory, when I was back in CA, the price for scallops was at least acceptable. And these were big scallops that can't be tackled easily in one mouthful. If I'm going to find comparable scallops in Taiwan...I think I'll just stand there and gag at the price tags.


Other pasta recipes:


Oct 5, 2021

Three Cup Chicken Fried Rice 三杯雞炒飯

Three cup chicken, if you haven't really heard of it, is basically a Chinese/Taiwanese dish made with one cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of Chinese rice cooking wine, and 1 cup of sesame oil. Usually ginger, garlics, and Chinese basil are also involved in bringing up extra aromatics.


Three cup chicken fried rice

You don't have to strictly follow the proportion of the seasonings, the idea of "three cup" simply implies a general rule for making three cup dishes. Depending on your preference, sometimes people like to tone down the amount of sesame oil used. 


This time, instead of three cup chicken alone, I'm going to give it a little twist and turn the classic flavor into fried rice.


Three cup chicken fried rice 三杯雞炒飯 -


Three cup chicken fried rice

Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 570 grams, about 1.25 lbs dark meat chicken (boneless, skin-on preferred)
  • 1 chunk old ginger
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • 50 grams or 1 loosely packed cup chopped Chinese basil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 rice measuring cups brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other preferred cooking oil
  • Some red chili sauce (optional)

Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


How?

Precook 2 1/2 rice measuring cups of brown rice. You can use white rice instead, just remember to use less water than usual when cooking the rice. Once ready, fluff the rice and set aside. Leftover rice works too.


Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces. Massage and marinate the chicken with all the ingredients listed under the "marinade" section. Simply let it marinate while prepping other ingredients.


Marinating boneless skin-on chicken

Pick out the Chinese basil leaves and give it a fine chop. Beat 4 eggs. Add in chopped Chinese basil leaves and beat again till evenly blended.


Beaten eggs with chopped Chinese basil leaves

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Scrape the skin and slice the old ginger, about 1 to 1.5 mm thickness.


Use a non-stick pan or a wok, drizzle 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, not the black sesame oil, to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once warmed up, pour in beaten egg and make scrambled egg there. You can let the beaten egg set for a bit before stirring it. Scoop out the eggs for later use.


Scrambled eggs with Chinese basil

Still using the same pan, this time drizzle 2 tablespoons of black sesame oil over and continue with medium high heat. Add in ginger and sear till slightly colored. 


Add in garlic and chicken along with its marinade. Give it a quick mix. Cook till no more extra juice present, like almost dried up.


Searing boneless dark meat chicken

Mix in rice in two batches. Make sure each grains are coated with the seasonings first before adding the second batch. Once well blended, mix in scrambled eggs. Mix and give it a taste, see if need more soy sauce or other seasonings.


Plate and serve with some chili sauce on top.


Three cup chicken fried rice

How about fancier version of three cup chicken fried rice? Try frying up some Chinese basil leaves till crispy, like the ones you sometimes get from a Taiwanese crispy chicken place. Garnish the leaves on top of the rice. It'll definitely provide more depth, both presentation and flavor-wise. 


Other fried rice recipes: