ORANGE JUICE TAMES THE HEAT

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - SARA MOUL­TON

Have you ever whipped up a spicy dish — chili, for ex­am­ple — and re­al­ized too late that you some­how over­did it and added way too much of the hot stuff ?

Hap­pily, there are two very sim­ple ways to re­store some equi­lib­rium: adding dairy and/or sugar.

It’s a bal­anc­ing act per­formed all over the world. The Indians serve their vin­daloo with yo­gurt. Mex­i­cans tamp down the heat of their ha­baneros with crema or sour cream.

Here in North Amer­ica, we use sugar to coun­ter­act the heat in our bar­be­cue sauce (al­though we then tend to overdo it in the other di­rec­tion and make it too sweet).

So, how to tame the heat in this spicy shrimp? I went with sugar in the form of fresh orange juice, boiled down un­til con­cen­trated, which then be­comes the main flavour in the recipe’s vinai­grette.

The juice also helps to lighten the dress­ing — you need less oil when one of your other in­gre­di­ents is as thick and flavour­ful as con­cen­trated orange juice. (Grape­fruit juice, which is slightly more tart than orange juice, works equally well.)

In an ef­fort to cut down on the prepa­ra­tion time for this recipe, I’ve called for a store-bought Cre­ole or jerk spice mix. But feel free to con­jure up your own. As long as it in­cludes ground chipo­tle or hot pa­prika or cayenne, you’ll win.

Spicy Shrimp with Hearts of Palm, Av­o­cado and Orange Salad

SERV­INGS: 4

3 ta­ble­spoons veg­etable oil, prefer­ably grape­seed, di­vided 1 tbsp plus 1 tea­spoon Ja­maican jerk sea­son­ing, Cre­ole sea­son­ing or your favourite spicy sea­son­ing 1 pound jumbo (16 to 20) peeled and de­veined shrimp 1/3 cup fresh orange juice ¼ tea­spoon kosher salt 1 tsp Di­jon mus­tard 1½ tbsp white wine vine­gar 6 cups torn but­ter let­tuce 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and pat­ted dry, sliced cross­wise ½-inch thick 1 large Haas av­o­cado, peeled, pit­ted and cut into ½-inch chunks 2 medium or­anges, peeled and cut into seg­ments ¼ cup toasted sun­flower seeds (toasted in a 350 F oven un­til golden, six to eight min­utes)

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour 40 min­utes (40 ac­tive)

In a large bowl stir to­gether 1 ta­ble­spoon of the oil and the jerk sea­son­ing; add the shrimp and toss well to coat. Cover and chill for one hour. Heat the grill to medium. In a small saucepan, sim­mer the orange juice un­til it is re­duced to 2 ta­ble­spoons. Trans­fer to a small bowl; add the salt, mus­tard and vine­gar, and whisk un­til the salt is dis­solved. Grad­u­ally whisk in the re­main­ing 2 ta­ble­spoons veg­etable oil.

Thread the shrimp on skew­ers and grill, turn­ing them over once, about two min­utes a side.

Mean­while, in a large bowl com­bine the let­tuce, hearts of palm, av­o­cado and orange seg­ments. Add ¼ cup of the dress­ing and toss well.

To serve, di­vide the salad among four plates, top with the shrimp and sun­flower seeds; driz­zle with the re­main­ing dress­ing.

Per serv­ing: 380 calo­ries (209 from fat); 23 grams fat (3 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans); 143 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 1,189 mg sodium; 23 g car­bo­hy­drate; 10 g fi­bre; 10 g sugar; 21 g pro­tein.

SARA MOUL­TON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Orange juice adds flavour and sweet­ness, and helps to tame the heat in this recipe.

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