Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spicy Orange Garlic Shrimp and Cold Melon Soup

Ed. note: This post originally appeared in my 2008 food blog Fork It Over on the website of the Rochester Insider magazine, which is now Metromix Rochester. Since the old blog is no longer available online, I'm re-posting some of those posts here and backdating them to their original posting dates. Although in most cases they are specific to Rochester, hopefully you'll still find them somewhat interesting!  ~Rachel, 6/28/10

My dining companion was on a business trip last week, leaving the kitchen in my incapable hands once again. In honor of the sweltering heat (and the miserable cold that had been keeping me sneezing all week), I decided to go with a light and healthy fruit theme for dinner one night. I've always been intrigued by the idea of cold soup, and I've had a few that were pretty good. One that stands out in my memory is a cold watermelon soup from Veselka, a popular Ukrainian restaurant in NYC's East Village. A quick search for "cold melon soup" recipes turned up a bunch of results. I ended up settling for Cool Melon Swirl Soup, curious to see if I could actually accomplish the "swirl" part of the recipe. (Keep reading to find out if I succeeded!)

I didn't really measure out the amounts of the ingredients as listed in the recipe; I haphazardly threw melon chunks in the blender and liberally added the honey and lime juice. This may have contributed to the unfortunate thinness of the finished soup. I expected something a little dense, but my soup was rather, well, soupy. As you can see below, the swirl didn't really work. Big surprise, right? Maybe if I had used the correct amounts of everything, the densities would have been different and the orange part would have stayed separate from the green part. Anyone out there know how to make something like this work? Anyway, here's the finished product, garnished with whipped cream and berries. A mint leaf would have been a nice embellishment too, but the store was out of fresh mint. As you can see, I had some trouble forming a perfect dollop of cream, and the berries quickly began to topple into the soup. The presentation didn't work out so well for this meal.
Cold Melon Soup with Berries

Man overboard...

In addition to the soup, I made shrimp and rice. I decided to be daring (generally a bad idea) and improvised a shrimp marinade. I plucked some random things from the cupboard and ended up with a marinade consisting of the following:
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • dash of chili oil
  • dash of chopped garlic (the kind that comes pre-chopped in a little jar full of liquid)
This was enough for about 8 small to medium shrimp. For once, something worked out for me in the kitchen. This marinade was actually really tasty. The chili oil added just a bit of heat, the soy sauce and garlic gave it an Asian flavor, and the orange marmalade added some sweetness, but not too much. I let the shrimp marinate for about 30 minutes, grilled them, and served them over white rice, which I managed to burn slightly. Well, I guess it's just not possible for everything to work out perfectly in one meal.
Spicy Orange Garlic Shrimp

This meal was less of a disaster than some other things I've made in the kitchen, but there's definitely room for improvement. The thin texture of the soup wasn't wonderful, although the whipped cream helped a lot. There are a lot of other recipes out there for cold fruit soups, so I might try a few others this summer. The shrimp was the best part of the meal, and I'll definitely be making the marinade again, maybe with a little bit more chili oil next time. The spicier, the better!

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