It's not always easy to find perfect balance in life, that "just right" feeling, so that things can be enjoyed and appreciated in the best possible way. Preparing a meal like sizzling shrimp fajita stir-fry offers a beautifully symbolic way for us to taste a little balance through the ingredients we use and how we use them.
My goodness gracious, has this particular winter season been an extremely rainy one for Southern California!
It seems a lot like we're now in the midst of making up for all the years of utter dryness and drought within the course of a couple of very short months, and that's a pretty extreme thing to experience.
It's an interesting thing, the rain. When there's not enough of it for an extended period of time, the landscape becomes parched and thirsty, malnourished and scrawny; and when there's a sudden over-abundance, an overflow, things become saturated beyond capacity, with pooling and flooding occurring. And when that happens, I find myself turning my eyes nervously up toward our ceiling constantly scanning for potential wet spots from excess water seeping in through some little insidious crack somewhere, hoping beyond hope that things above our heads will hold up by the grace of God.
Which then makes me realize, anytime there is imbalance in life, in any area, things can get uncomfortable.
When there is either too much or too little of something, one can feel the weight of it; it can be either a “bursting at the seems” discomfort, or else a total deficit, a feeling of starvation.
And neither of those are pleasant or ideal states.
Experiencing balance in life is not something that I take for granted, as it seems like quite the fleeting and rare thing to experience in the complex world in which we live; but it is something I truly long for, strive for, something I chase after in order that I can “taste” and experience a little of all the things that life has to offer, yet in more palatable quantities.
The preparation of a meal has this concept of “seeking balance” built right into its very nature, which is such an extraordinarily beautiful thing.
It requires a conscious searching out of the harmony between all of the ingredients of a dish—the shrimp, the spices, the peppers, the onions, the sweet tang of the sauce—and for one to employ their own senses and make adjustments as needed in order for the most well-rounded and delicious meal to be thoroughly enjoyed.
Cooking is a simple and wonderful way to experience and understand this elusive concept of balance.
I also suppose that part of the very process of finding balance is also to experience imbalance, as that is how one truly knows the difference between the two.
Sitting at my table watching the rain beat against my window as heavily as it is, I feel at once gratitude for the abundance of it (as it is so desperately needed in order that our land and our lakes and our rivers may come back to vigorous life), yet also trepidation and uncertainty for what such an excess brings with it all at once—what challenges and difficulties may result from such an extreme.
I am uncomfortable in the imbalance...
But at the end of the day, whatever life brings, it must be welcomed, I suppose.
Too much rain? Alright.
Not enough rain? So be it.
In the mean time, I'll seek to attempt to create a bit of balance in the preparation of a simple shrimp fajita stir-fry with a tasty little “Asian fusion” sauce, one that bridges a couple of different flavors together in a wonderfully balanced way.
I'll seek to find it in this tender act of cooking, and use the ingredients and my instincts as my guide.
I'll continue to strive for balance with all my heart, in the hopes of one day tasting its richness in the many areas of life; tasting its mercy, and the flavorful wisdom and understanding that comes with it.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Sizzling Shrimp Fajita Stir-Fry with an Asian Fusion Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (medium size)
• Avocado (or olive) oil
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press, divided use
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon lime zest
• 2 teaspoons lime juice
• 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
• 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
• 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
• 1 white onion, quartered and sliced
• 3 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodle soup, the ramen noodles only, cooked in boiling water for about 3 minutes and drained
• Asian Fusion Sauce (recipe below)
• Cilantro leaves, for garnish
• Sesame seeds, for garnish
• Lime wedge, for garnish
-Place the shrimp into a large bowl, and drizzle in about 1-2 tablespoons of the oil; add in 2 cloves worth of the pressed garlic, the chili powder, cumin, a pinch or two of the salt and pepper, as well as the lime zest and lime juice, and toss to coat; marinate for about 20 minutes.
-Place a large cast-iron skillet (or a heavy-bottom skillet/pan) over medium-high heat, and drizzle in 3-4 tablespoons of oil; once hot, add in the shrimp and sear on the first side for a couple of minutes, then flip them and sear them until golden-brown and cooked through; remove from pan.
-Into the skillet add a another drizzle of oil if needed, and add in the sliced bell peppers and onions, and allow them to sit in the skillet, undisturbed, for a few minutes, until a nice char forms; stir and allow them to continue to char up a bit more, until slightly caramelized.
-Stir in the remainder of the pressed garlic, and toss in the cooked ramen noodles, coating them in the veggies.
-Add the shrimp back in, and drizzle in a little of the Fusion Sauce to coat things lightly and toss together, then turn off the heat.
-Serve hot with another generous drizzle of the Fusion Sauce over top, along with a few cilantro leaves, some sesame seeds, and a wedge of lime, if desired.
Fusion Sauce Ingredients:
• 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 2 tablespoons water
-Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, and use immediately; or, keep in a covered container in fridge until ready to use (or with leftovers).