Grilling is mandatory at the moment for most of us here sweltering on the East Coast. The thought of turning on my oven makes me want to run for the nearest take-out joint but the thought of eating pizza again makes my family glare at me with murderous eyes and demand Captain Crunch for dinner instead.
Therefore, I needed something to grill and something cool to go with it. I wasn't in the mood for a lot of fussing and at the same time, I wanted a little more than plain, grilled fare at the very least. I turned to Bobby Flay (his cookbook that is, Boy Gets Grill) who is not only innovative (anyone who has incorporated Spanish flavors so thoroughly into his repertoire is my kind of cook) but reliable as well. His Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Soy Sauce, Fresh Ginger and Toasted Sesame Seeds fit the bill perfectly. I took some shrimp out of the freezer--now that's a lifesaver; everyone should keep frozen shrimp in their freezer all summer long--brined it in a mild solution (2 Tb. coarse salt in 1 quart of water) until thawed and turned to page 116. Here's a link to the recipe on the web.
It was a lovely Asian mélange of flavors: the piquancy of the ginger and garlic married nicely with the smoky flavor of the grill without overwhelming the sweetness of the shrimp. I also tried the Crunchy Vegetable Slaw with Peanut Sauce and Crispy Noodles on page 66 (it's renamed Crunchy Noodle Salad with Cabbage and Peanut Sauce for his Food Network show) Flay recommends as a side dish but I wasn't nearly as impressed. Although I loved the peanutty dressing, it lacked a certain something, a certain oomph to complement the shrimp and its rather subtle flavors. Both the shrimp and the slaw are a little two nut-ridden for my taste when eaten at the same meal and I wanted more of a contrast. Then I remembered another slaw I've made many times in the past, the Surreal Gourmet's (aka Bob Blumer) Psychedelic Coleslaw. Some sesame seeds, yes, but that dish packs a wallop and is gorgeous to boot, with the crazy purples and reds and yellows of the red cabbage and peppers all intertwined and dripping with a spicy, sweet dressing you want to lick from the bottom of the emptied bowl. With a food processor, slaw is a snap and you get all of those phytonutrients raw vegetables are supposed to be brimming with to boot. That would have been the perfect accompaniment to Flay's shrimp and next time, you can bet it'll accompany mine.