Coconut Milk Shrimp, and My Hard Drive Heartache

Before I get to this delicious coconut milk shrimp dish, I want to share my misery. I'm one of those people who is terrible about backing up files. Two days ago, my hard drive crashed. After a lengthy recover process, my important documents and music were thankfully saved. However, about 80% of the photos I have taken since September, including many many food photos, stand a good chance of being completely lost forever. (Agh!!!) And what pains me the most is that this could have been prevented by just taking a few minutes every week or two to back up my data on some external drive.

So the lesson to you bloggers, writers, and photographers out there: Back up! Firewire drives are a cheap alternative to this anguish of losing months, or even years, of hard hard work. Computers are fickle and can die at any minute, even Macs.

I think my beloved iBook will work again with new hard drive. But the photos are most likely lost forever. I know this crash isn't the end of the world, but for a writer and blogger who does most of her work with a computer (and with deadlines looming) this is a major setback. I will be kicking myself for a long, long time.

But for now, the shrimp.

I made this mere hours before the crash (and fortunately the photos were still on my camera.) I wanted to make a light seafood dish to counteract the heavier braises, stir-fries, and noodle dishes I have been eating lately. And warmer weather inevitably makes one hunger for lighter meals. In this dish there is just enough coconut milk to add fragrance and flavor, without being overwhelming. The sauce is also delicious mixed with rice. Butterflying takes a little extra time, but I think it helps the shrimp absorb more flavor.

While I'd like to make this more often, I should save money from buying shrimp and put it towards the new hard drive. Or for the hot new Macbook Air. Apparently (in my layman's understanding) the technology in the expensive version means it is much more durable to normal wear than all other laptops before, in effect eliminating the chance for a crash like mine. Now the question is: how much seafood am I willing to forfeit for the dream laptop?

____________________________ Coconut Milk Shrimp

Adapted from Food & Wine

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 Thai birds-eye chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and butterflied
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
  1. Heat peanut oil in a large skillet. Cook shallots over moderate heat until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in the chilli and lime zest, then pour in the coconut milk. Bring liquid to simmer. Add sugar and season generously with salt.
  2. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, about 5 minutes. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over steamed rice. Sprinkle with the cilantro and (optional) peanuts and serve.