tasty tuesday: spicy shrimp soba noodle bowls


Tonight’s dish was inspired by one of my favorite hidden hideaways in Macon: Pho Saigon. I’m partial to the shrimp noodle soup, which is a pho-like soup that I slurp up with plenty of basil and sriracha, but Alex usually gets a noodle or rice bowl. Both dishes are surprisingly healthy and are packed full of flavor. I knew that we still had some Georgia shrimp in the freezer from our trip this summer to the coast, so I wanted to feature one of our state’s jewels in a way other than a fried variety or in shrimp and grits. This recipe is a great summer-to-fall transition go-to; it’s simultaneously fresh and indulgent-tasting without being too heavy. I used Japanese soba noodles in this bowl which are made from buckwheat and are full of fiber rather than the typical rice noodle in Vietnamese cuisine, but you could use any type of noodle you like.

One of my favorite things about this dish was the contrast between the warm shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms, and noodles with the cool and crisp bean sprouts, carrots, lettuce, and peanuts. You could use any sauce you like, but I threw together some of the Asian sauces we had in the refrigerator and made my own variation. Tip: include a dash of fish sauce in your concoction. It smells less than ideal on its own, but it will make any sauce you like taste authentic!

Spicy Shrimp Soba Noodle Bowls

Serves 2

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. canola oil

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 oz. soba noodles

1 broccoli crown, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup mung bean sprouts

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup peanuts

4 leaves of greenleaf lettuce

for the sauce:

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. sriracha

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce

1 Tbsp. PB2

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Cook the pasta according the package directions, rinse with cold water, then toss with 1 Tbsp. sesame oil; divide evenly between two large, wide bowls.

Heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil and 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add two minced garlic cloves, then add the broccoli and mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, remove from pan and set aside. Add another 1 Tbsp. canola oil and 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil to the pan, then add the other two minced garlic cloves and the red pepper flakes to the oil. Next, add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute on each side.

Arrange each of these items on around the bowl on top of the noodles: lettuce leaves, carrots, peanuts, bean sprouts, scallions, shrimp, broccoli, and mushrooms.

In a small jar, shake the sauce ingredients together, then pour the sauce into the middle of your bowl. Present the bowl this way to your diners, then dig in!

tasty tuesday: spicy cajun shrimp and rice

I’m back in the kitchen again. It’s the first time I have cooked since Thanksgiving (which featured another great smoked bird and from scratch green bean casserole from me– I don’t think I can go back to canned!), and that is largely due to our being on the Historic Vineville Christmas Tour where I wasn’t allowed to cook because I like to cook with “chefless abandon”. If there is one thing I am great at making, its a mess.

Needless to say, our house looks amazing with all of the Christmas stuff. Eleta and her mom did a fine job making it look festive and classic. I helped with the heavy and high up stuff.

But anyway, on to the main event. Tonight’s supper is brought to you by not having enough time in the day. I had a meeting that went until 7 and I had one idea when I went to the store– Shrimp. The results were excellent!

Spicy Cajun Shrimp and Rice

1 lb gulf shrimp
1 1/2 cup dry rice
3 cups water
1/4 cup chopped okra, chopped
1/2 cup plum tomatoes, halved
1 green chile, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 can hot chili beans
Cajun seasoning (Cayenne, Paprika, Onion Powder, Chili P, Salt, Black and Red Pepper)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup olive oil

So, this is a lot easier if you happen to have a rice cooker. If you don’t have one, maybe you should look into one at Robinson Home, downtown Macon’s newest store selling excellent kitchen wares. If you have one, start your rice in it with the rice and water, otherwise cook the rice on the stovetop by boiling the water and simmering the rice for about 45 mins (I used brown rice which takes longer).

Next, pre-cook the okra with olive oil and salt and pepper. Sautee in a dutch oven for about five minutes while doing something else, so having a drink. Remove from pan.

Heat the rest of the oil and butter in the pan until the butter browns slightly. Add the cajun seasoning and the shrimp, peeled, for about a minute on medium heat. Lower heat and add the chile, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and okra to the pan and stir.

It actually fits with the decor.

It actually fits with the decor.

Cook about 3 minutes until flavors have combined. Stir in the beans and cooked rice and stir. Add parsley and cook for another minute. Serve in a bowl and garnish with parsley and a lemon wedge. Eat.

Quick, spicy, tasty.

Quick, spicy, tasty.


I can’t express how nice it was to be back in the kitchen and cooking. It is amazing how much you can grow to love it. It really is a joy, especially to cook something that is somewhat back to my roots (some may have noticed I was born in the Louisiana in this article). Enjoy, y’all.

tales from the egg: pastrami short ribs, boston butt, lemon pepper and spicy chicken


When you have a Big Green Egg you try to find excuses to use it. This past weekend, I started by just inviting some friends over, but then our friend Meg realized that with the return of Arrested Development, we should host a bigger shin-dig and have a full on BBQ fest. The BBQ and Bananas event was born (yes, we had frozen bananas, ice cream sandwiches, juice boxes, cornballs, the works). It was a lot of fun. (H/t Corey Bennett, Tim and Leila Regan-Porter, Melanie Bruchet (of the Cooking up Happy blog), and Lauren Morrill Ragusea (Find her in a bookstore near you!) for bringing the above themed goodies)

I want to have a special space here at the Bungalow for my many egg-ventures. I have gotten adept at basic ribs and pulled pork, but I am hoping to greatly expand by repertoire. I started this past weekend with some pastrami-brined short ribs. I got the inspiration from an Esquire article about some guys in Houston making classy bbq. I figured I could do the same.

Brining the night away…

After picking up some quality short-ribs, I set out to brine. In a large bowl I added hefty amounts of pickling spice, coriander, pepper, sea salt, paprika, and thyme. I added hot water and whisked until the dissolvable bits were dissolved and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I placed the ribs in a gallon freezer bag and poured the brine over the top. In the fridge, the ribs brined for over 16 hours.

Note the every recipe for pastrami will call for pink salt. This is designed to help in the brining by adding a distinct flavor while preserving a good color. I unfortunately could not find natural pink salt.

After the brine, as with a good many things, you have to pat these guys dry. I made a special rub of sea salt, whole peppercorns, coriander, and paprika in the food processor, milling the spices until coarsely ground. Add the rub to each rib, being sure to coat the entire top, meaty portion.

With the smoker ready to go and some smoked apple chips handy, head outside! After the chips were added, I got the egg up to 300 and smoked the ribs for about 3 hours, until they began to get a little stringy and easily pulled from the bone.

You guys...

You guys…

Now, for this iteration of the pulled pork. Instead of my usual sweet and spicy rub, I made a special herby rub this time. Salt replaced sugar as the heaviest ingredient and used its friends cumin, thyme, paprika, chili powder, red pepper flake, ground mustard and cinnamon do the work. After coating the butt in canola oil, I applied copious amounts of the rub and let it sit in the fridge for about four hours. It may of have to go on the grill at midnight and smoke for 12 1/2 hours in an applewood bath, but it was well worth it as you see.

So much flavor.

So much flavor.

I am a fan for mopping the butt a few times and flipping a couple of times in the process, just not for longer than an hour per time with the fat cap down. The whole point of slow smoking a shoulder butt is to melt the fat into the muscle and create a juicy, hand pickable meat like so…


For a mop, this time, I used red wine, cider vinegar, water, and some of the rub. I added a little bit of rub (which I added sugar later in the process) after each mop. If you do it this way, you will not need sauce, but if you must, I’ll help you make your own sometime.

In my efforts to get a little more diverse, I invested in Myron Mixon’s new book. He has some great pointers and an excellent lemon pepper chicken recipe. In deference to him, I will not post his recipe online, but know that it uses lemon curb as a base for the marinade and includes fresh garlic, black pepper, lemon juice, and hot sauce. You add this to a whole chicken coating the bird under and over the skin. Smoking with applewood for an hour and half, and then letting it rest for 15, will render a super juicy, easy to carve into pieces, bird.

The second bird I did (same time and process and the above) with a homemade spicy marinade. I mixed turbinado sugar, kosher salt, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and red pepper flake with louisiana hot sauce and rubbed the bird down. This was a seriously spicy, full flavor bird. You can tell they wanted to be cooked.

Party Fowl

Party Fowl

All told, this was one heck of a spread. I can’t tell you any of the amounts of the above since you will come to realize this is more art than science, but a good rule of thumb is to start your rubs with your featured flavor (salty or sweet) and go 4 parts of it to 1 part of your next spice. Then, for the remaining spices, only use 1/4 of the amount you used for the second ingredient. I like to layer the rubs in a bowl and use sight to gauge my taste and then mix them up before applying.

As always, be adventurous, trust your taste, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

broiled grouper & spicy okra and tomatoes

broiled grouper and spicy okra and tomatoes

As spring (reluctantly) rolls around, I find myself craving all things seafood–both fish and shellfish.  I guess the warmer weather beckons for lighter protein, but unless it’s a zillion degrees outside, I dislike tilapia.  For me, it’s the boneless skinless chicken breast of the sea: plain, bland, and oh-so-forgettable.  In the hotter months, a nice tilapia fillet with garden salsa and avocado is lovely, and I’m also a fan of using them in fish tacos.  I just can’t abide them being the main event for dinner.  Grouper, however, is a meatier fish that’s still delicate and mild.  I think it works great with the okra and tomatoes, and I served both dishes with a side of quinoa and brown rice.

As a true daughter of the American South, I have to confess my love for okra.  Yes, it’s green and slimy, but don’t let that stop you from trying it if you haven’t had it in a while.  The gateway preparation for okra will always be fried okra (best prepared by Macon’s The Bear’s Den, in my opinion), but okra and tomatoes is probably the second most recognizable dish for this earthy delicacy.  This east-meets-west okra recipe gives a nod to both the South and India as this truly southern recipe gets a modern and tasty twist.

Crispy Broiled Grouper
2 grouper fillets
1Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 lemon (zest and juice)

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
Kosher salt
cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or your broil setting.  Pat fillets dry with a paper towel and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, Old Bay, dijon mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Place fillets in the mixing bowl and coat evenly. Line the broiler pan with aluminum foil and place the fillets on the pan.  Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the ends of the fish begin to brown and crisp. 2 servings.

Spicy Okra and Tomatoes
From the Bon Appetit, Y’all Cookbook
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lb. okra cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 (28-oz) can tomatoes, chopped, with juices (I used San Marzano)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the okra and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Add the onion to the residual oil in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about one minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric and stir to combine.  Add the tomatoes and juices and stir to combine.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the okra to combine.  Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the okra is tender, about 10 minutes.  Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.  Garnish with cilantro.  Six servings.
WWinfo: grouper 8pp, okra/tomatoes 4pp, quinoa (1/2 cup) 3pp