Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sur La Table Cooking Review + Shrimp with Mango Salsa

A few weeks ago - actually the day before I left for Vegas - my friend Heather and I drove down to south Jersey to enjoy a birthday gift Matt had given me this year: a cooking class at Sur La Table! I love Sur La Table and all their amazing kitchen gadgets, but never knew they hosted cooking classes in the back. Matt had signed Heather and I up for the Seafood Grilling Workshop, which was perfect because I love cooking seafood but always seem to overdo it on the grill, worried that it's going to be undercooked. I was looking forward to learning some new tips and tricks so I don't always have to rely on Matt for grill duties.

At the beginning of class, the chef split us up into two teams and explained the various techniques we'd be using and dishes we'd be preparing:

- Spiced Shrimp with Mango-Chile Salsa
- Grilled Scallops with Asparagus, Sesame & Mirin
- Grilled Tuna with Peppers and Homemade Caper-Parsley Aioli
- Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw

Without a doubt, the shrimp with mango salsa was my favorite, so I'm sharing the recipe with you all below. I just made it again on Friday night when Matt's family came over for a BBQ, and it is SO good. The smoked paprika makes the dish, and I'm becoming such a fan of the spice that I'm putting it on everything - veggies, tofu, eggs, literally everything.

There were some things I really liked about the class:

- We used really fresh ingredients and made everything from scratch (I love making aioli, but I always cheat and use prepared mayo - making it with fresh egg yolks was really fun)
- I learned how to properly hold a knife - little did I know I've been doing it wrong all these years
- The recipes were quite good and it was fun eating all our creations as a group
- The kitchen was beautiful and I loved having access to all kinds of fun gadgets and utensils
- The class was very relaxed and laid back
- We got to try some interesting new ingredients, like dried capers and extra smokey paprika
- I learned how to make perfect grill marks on my fish - woo!

For almost three hours, we sipped on glasses of white wine while the chef taught us proper knife techniques and showed us how to prepare our various courses.

There were, however, some things I would change if I could:

- The class seemed a little too "beginner" for me and I knew a lot of the info the chef was sharing. I think next time I'd like to try an intermediate or advanced class if they have them.
- I understood why we were split into teams, but I would've preferred just working with partners rather than a team of 5 so we could each get to work on every step of each recipe
- Although it was a grilling class, we only used the actual grill once; the rest of the time we used grill pans, so I didn't get as much hands-on experience using the gas or charcoal grill as I would've liked
- The chef was really nice and fun, but she seemed a little unsure of herself and I didn't get the sense that she'd been cooking for a lot of years; I would've preferred a chef with a bit more knowledge

Dislikes out of the way, the class was really enjoyable and the food was definitely tasty. I think it would be a great class for cooking beginners, and they have a lot of different course options. And it sure was a fun birthday present and great way to spend the afternoon with a good friend.

Sur La Table also gave us coupons for 10% off everything in the store, so Heather and I both left with bags full of fun finds, including the delicious smoked paprika we used on the shrimp, some cute molds for homemade ice pops and some amazing gray sea salt caramels which we ate on the way home with Starbucks macchiatos.

And now for the recipe. Make this shrimp, I promise you'll love it!

Spiced Shrimp with Mango-Chile Salsa 

Recipe by Sur La Table

Serves 4 as an entree

Ingredients - Mango-Chile Salsa
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 Serrano chile, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
Juice of one lime
1 mango, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Kosher salt

Spice Mixture
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. pimenton (smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare a medium charcoal fire, preheat a gas grill to medium, or heat a large grill skillet over medium heat.

To make salsa: In a medium bowl, add the olive oil with the vinegar, shallot, garlic, fresh and dried chiles, ginger, cilantro and lime. Add the mango and salt, and stir to combine. Set aside to let flavors meld.

In a small bowl, add the spices and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, add shrimp, drizzle with olive oil and coat with spice mixture. Lightly brush the grill with oil and place the shrimp on the grill. Grill shrimp, turning once, until lightly charred or just cooked through, about 4 minutes.

To serve: Transfer the cooked shrimp to plates and top with mango-chile salsa. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve immediately.

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