Friday, June 12, 2009

I Heart CSA + Shrimp Stir Fry

Ode to my CSA:

What can I say?
Every Tuesday
A secret cache,
A veritable buffet
Of vegetables on display.
A strawberry bouquet,
Spinach to survey,
A tomato soiree!
The flavors, they play--
True goodness to convey--
My tastebuds to sway
Those supermarket fakers to betray.
Please never go away.
You're seriously frigging good.

Today's post is all about CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture. The gist of this concept is that a farm near you will accept your payment sometime in the winter for a delivery of fresh produce throughout the summer and fall. This way, they get the money they need when they need it (during planting season) and you get the goods you want when you want it (during the summer when you want everything to taste super fresh). Just google "CSA" and "your city".

Granted, this whole "local" thing is nothing new, but for those of us in urban zip codes, where it is impossible to till the sidewalk outside our apartment and shopping organic gets real expensive real fast (and there's no dude on the corner of Highway 167 selling his watermelons), this CSA thing is a real bargain. Talk about organic, local, and produce-the-way-it-was-meant-to-taste for pennies a week. We get a haul of food every week from June through October, and we paid ahead of time, which means it's like shopping for free! It may be too late to sign up for a 2009 CSA, but put this bee in your bonnet for 2010. In the meantime, shop farmer's markets. You will never look at a supermarket tomato the same way again.

This week, the first week of our CSA delivery--which, by the way, was FEATURED in a NPR broadcast (that's my farm!!) on local agriculture, not one but TWICE!--we received tat soi. What? It's a cousin of bok choy and tastes absolutely delicious after a quick sear and a little soy sauce. The following technique can be used with any combination of meats and vegetables (or just vegetables), for a super-speedy stir fry any night of the week.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry
(serves 2; rice takes 20 minutes, stir fry takes about 5)

1/2 cup jasmine or basmati rice
1/2 lb. frozen (deveined) shrimp, thawed and peeled
1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch
8-10 sugar snap peas, trimmed
3-4 cups tat soi or bok choy stems
Canola or peanut oil
1/4 cup broth
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or any white vinegar)
1/4 soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cornstarch
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1/2 inch fresh garlic or 1/2 tsp dried
red pepper flakes to taste (start with 1/4 tsp)
2-3 Green onions, sliced thin
  1. Place rice in a small pot. Add enough water to come 1 knuckle's length above rice. Place on burner and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer about 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Rice will be sticky.
  2. Have all vegetables and shrimp ready, because cooking will happen like THAT (I'm snapping). Combine broth through garlic in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat, until smoking. Add shrimp and cook 1 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
  3. Add carrots and cook 1 minute, restoring oil if needed. Throw in sugar snaps and tat soi (or whatever you're using) and stir for 1 minute. Whisk liquid mixture to make sure it's all combined and pour into pan, along with almost-cooked shrimp. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened and is bubbly. Turn off heat. Pour over hot rice, and top with green onions.

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