Dane and I have decided that, one night a week, he’ll make dinner. When we first started dating, he made me stuffed peppers that he served with a glass of chardonnay and a simple lettuce salad. Swoon.
Since I grew up cooking, and Dane didn’t, I’m often quite impatient with him. Cooking is something you learn over time – nobody is born knowing how to scramble an egg, and most of us destroyed several eggs in our attempt to learn this “simple” art. So what seems like second nature to me is, of course, not nature at all. I try to remember that. Especially here, I know how lucky I am to have a partner who cooks at all. And actually, Dane is a wonderful cook. I joke that he eats box dinner when I go out of town, but last time I went anywhere, I came back to a tupperware container full of “curried pumpkin and broccoli soup.” It was delicious.
Dane made a delicious, laid-back dinner last night, which I devoured before heading off to taiko practice, and the leftovers of which are currently beckoning to me from inside the crowded refrigerator here at work. With pre-cooked beans and deveined shrimp, the whole thing can be executed in less than 30 minutes.
Pasta with Shrimp, Scallions, and Soy Beans (serves 2 people)
- 2 servings dry spaghetti or pasta (a bundle about 2 cm in diameter = 1 serving)
- 1 cup cooked soybeans
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 eggplant, cut into disks 1 cm thick
- 8-10 uncooked, de-veined shrimp
- 2-3 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs white wine or cooking sake
- ¼ cup chopped scallions
- Thyme (to taste)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- My friend and well-known cooking guru Xan says that she made this dish and added lemon juice to bring out the flavors. I added lemon juice to a very similar dish and I agree. So, try adding a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice during the cooking process!
- If you are using dried soybeans, measure out ¾ cup into a pot, cover with ample water, and let soak overnight. Drain and replace with fresh water. Cook at a simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally and checking for bean softness.
- If your shrimp havn’t been de-veined, use a toothpick to easily scrape the single black “vein” (actually the digestive canal) from each shrimp. If the toothpick isn’t working for you, you can also just pick them out with clean fingernails.
- Optional, but recommended: Lightly salt the eggplant discs after slicing.
- In a medium pot, boil the pasta until cooked, then strain in a colander. Don’t wash the pasta! Set aside
- Pour olive oil into a saucepan set over medium heat. Allow the oil to warm before adding the chopped garlic. Sautee the garlic about 1 minute.
- Add sliced eggplant, cooked beans, and spices. Sautee uncovered for 3-5 minutes, or until eggplant begins to look tender. Taste and add more oil and spices if desired.
- Add the shrimp, scallions, and white wine/cooking sake. Stir to mix ingredients before covering the saucepan with a lid for about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and sautee a little longer if necessary.
- Measure the cooked pasta onto two plates before covering with the shrimp sautee. Serve and enjoy, perhaps with a glass of white wine.
If you’re a multitasker, you can boil the pasta while you cook the sauteed portion to save more time.