I was a vegetarian from 2004-2008 and for most of that time my grandma was alive. It’s helpful, for this story, to know that she thought I was absolutely nuts. She used to look at me and ask, “But you eat chicken, right?” Eliminating meat made no sense to her and it didn’t have to. She was German, after all. Her shoulders were broad and her body reached up to almost six feet in the air. When it came to most things, she had her mind made up.
This carried over to her dinner plate. She didn’t put anything on it unless it met very specific qualifications. Pork was okay. Pizza was bad. See? It escapes common logic. But that was her and I got to know her habits fairly well.
She moved in with my parents a year before she died. When I went to visit, I could expect her to be in the same leather recliner, her shoes lined up at the bottom of the stool, a crochet needle in her hand, a bag of candy orange slices by her side. She drew her own eyebrows on and so I used to love to see what new expression she’d be wearing.
“You’re a go-getter,” she’d tell me. I was always so flattered by that, especially because I was never sure it was true. It’s hard to imagine she’s missing everything that’s happening now — the way cooking has changed my life. She wouldn’t have understood it, she would have hated most of my food. But she would have raised one of those crooked eyebrows and said, “You’re a go-getter.”
What’s left of her now are a bunch of laced together memories. There are also a lot of trinkets. I saved the mittens she used to wear at night — the ones that kept her fingers nice and toasty. I wear her shiny broach sometimes — the one I bet she wore when she was younger. Maybe to dinner parties. Maybe to help her feel a little more glamorous in that tall, strong body she used to carry around.
This is a meal she would have hated. Sesame shrimp has way too many ingredients in it, though between you and me, it’s really pretty simple. If I made this meal, as I did last night, I would have had to make her something on the side. Maybe pork. Definitely not pizza. At least it would have proven one thing. I eat meat again. That would have made a lot of sense to her.
20 shrimp, peeled, deveined and put on skewers
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs rice vinegar
3 tbs sesame seeds
1 clove garlic
1 tbs fresh ginger
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
kosher salt, to taste
Toast sesame seeds in saute pan over low heat until aromatic and very light brown. Be careful not to burn.
Combine soy sauce, lime, vinegar, sesame seeds, garlic and ginger in blender and mix until well incorporated. Slowly add in canola oil and sesame oil until well mixed.
Put shrimp skewers in long baking dish and pour over marinade. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Grill shrimp on high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until pink and cooked through. Meanwhile warm the rest of the marinade up in a pot over medium heat.
Serve grilled shrimp, topped with a spoonful of marinade and some chopped cilantro.