By now, you probably know that Rob and I have an at-home date night once a week. It’s something we’ve been doing since the summer of 2000 when three-month-old Ben left us feeling a little desperate for some adult-only time, despite how enamoured we were with him. By the time Jackson came along, those precious few hours we carved out for each other every week were practically required in order to keep our sanity intact with two kids under two, and now that we live with two teenagers and a toddler you can only imagine how much we look forward to our time together on Thursday nights.
Despite our enthusiasm, these days our dates see a little less cooking than they used to, and instead of prepping a meal for each other we either a) drink beer and eat pizza or b) drink wine and eat cheese, in front of whatever Netflix show we’ve deemed binge-worthy that week. To be honest, we also use the night as a way to rest up for the weekend, as we get very little sleep between when we wake up Friday morning and when we finally get to bed on Sunday night. Our teenagers are quite social and we either have kids over until midnight or thereabouts on Friday and/or Saturday nights, or we’re picking up the boys from their friends’ houses around midnight (or thereabouts) on Friday and/or Saturday nights. We also have a baby who rises with the birds, so it’s not uncommon for us to be curled up with him, a warm bottle of milk and the Mother Goose Club between 4:30 - 5:00am. If you do the math, we really don’t sleep for more than a few hours each night and fully admit that right now, in this life stage, the weekends are kicking our you-know-whats just a little.
A few weeks ago I decided that I really didn’t want date night to become code for “let’s be lazy “ so I tucked Matthew into bed and returned to the kitchen to turn a bag of frozen shrimp into a dinner we can’t stop talking about. We’ve made it twice in as many weeks and have declared it our new favourite, something we do every three months or so if you’re paying close attention. I even made a version of the sandwich for Ben last week while Jackson was out at an eighth-grade graduation party, and he whole-heartedly endorsed the dish, so you can assume that with a few tweaks if necessary this is something that could probably work on your family dinner table this summer.
Shrimp Banh Mi
Although we suggest that this makes 4 sandwiches, we're also confident that if each sandwich was cut into three pieces this would make an awesome pre-dinner nibble or party snack.
Makes 4 sandwiches
For the cabbage and carrots:
- 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ small red cabbage, shredded
- 10 baby carrots, cut into matchsticks
For the basil mayonnaise:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
For the shrimp:
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
- Kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
For the sandwiches:
- 1 baguette, cut into 4 equal pieces
- ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro leaves
1. To make the cabbage and carrots: In a medium bowl whisk together the vinegar, sugar and salt. Add the cabbage and carrots and toss to combine.
2. To make the basil mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice and basil. Stir to combine.
3. To make the shrimp: Place the cornstarch in a small cereal bowl, beat the egg and water together in a second bowl, and dump the coconut into a third bowl. Season each bowl with salt to taste, and stir to combine. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it's hot and shimmering. Dredge the shrimp in the cornstarch, dip it in the egg, and coat all sides with the coconut. Fry until golden brown, about one and half minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, and place them on a paper towel lined plate when cooked.
4. To assemble the sandwiches: Preheat oven to 350°F and slice baguette pieces in half lengthwise (don’t cut all the way through). Place on baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Spread two tablespoons of the basil mayonnaise on each piece of bread and divide the cucumber evenly among the sandwiches, layering it on top of the mayonnaise. Add a quarter of the cooked shrimp to each sandwich, top with an equal amount of cabbage and carrots, and garnish with jalapeño slices and fresh cilantro.
Note: These would also be great made with toasted hot dog buns.