What inspires my cooking? How do I come up with ideas for recipes? Usually it's a) whatever's on sale or b) whatever I'm craving from a recent travel destination. Let me take you through my real-life creative cooking process: On a lazy Sunday afternoon I thought about grilling and decided to check my Whole Foods app to see what fish or meat might be on sale, and I saw that shrimp was on sale for $10 a pound (this is pretty good for large shrimp). I thought about grilling them for a moment...and then my taste buds flashed back to this amazing shrimp dish we had a few times on our Ecuador trip. It was slightly spicy, rich, flavorful, and it was served with plain white rice , plantains, avocado, and Ecuador's famous aji sauce. Before I knew it I found myself in Whole Foods trying to reverse engineer the recipe. In addition to the shrimp being on sale, I saw they'd put out seasonal fresh pineapple and mango salsa and thought it'd make the perfect acidic relish to a rich shrimp dish. There you go. That is my creative process when it comes to food. Cravings-based, scatterbrained, and frugal! While it's not perfect and nothing near the original, it'll give you a taste of Ecuador. Unfortunate you'll need to visit to get the real thang. Enjoy this recipe and the subsequent leftovers.
Total prep and cook time: 45 minutes
- 1 pound shrimp 🍤
- 1 small lime
- 1 tablespoon minced or paste garlic
- 1 teaspoon aji (Orange/yellow chili powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup jasmine rice 🍚
- 1 leftover lime
- 1 avocado for garnish
- 1 bunch cilantro for garnish
- Pineapple/mango salsa (from Whole Foods)
- Peel, tail, and de-vein the shrimp.
- In a medium pot, start the rice. Cook rice on medium high in 1 cup of water and 1/2 the can of coconut milk.
- In a large bowl, pour the other half of the can and mix with the shrimp.
- Carefully stir in cilantro, garlic, aji, paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, and squeeze in the juice of a lime. Make sure the shrimp are well coated.
- Once the rice starts boiling, turn down to low and cover.
- In a large greased cast iron or non-stick pan, cook the shrimp mixture on medium high for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down low after 5 minutes to simmer so the shrimp don't become tough and chewy.
- Fluff the rice once it appears done.
- Serve and garnish rice with cilantro and sliced avocado. Serve with aji sauce (or hot sauce) and pineapple/mango salsa.