Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fat and friends

As I said in my comments from the last post, my frustrations at work were best served by going in, reanalyzing my data from scratch, and being as skeptical as possible about it. None of this 'Oh, I think that's the molecule I'm looking for, so I'll count it.' I only accepted 100% proof-positive samples and was pleased to see that I got the same trend as my analysis from a year ago. That is exactly how science is supposed to work, people!

Now I'm relaxing and enjoying some wine and the form of a molten chocolate cake and some Spanish wine I ordered on Have you been there? It's a great idea...kind of like Groupon for wine, they have specials everyday. It allowed me to buy $45.00 worth of wine for $16.00 plus shipping. (I don't get anything from Wineshopper for saying that, but if you're interested and want to do me a favor, I could get referral credits for recommending it. Just e-mail me at

Anyway, I also made an excellent dinner.  Recently, I had an amazing and unexpected meal at one of the Thai restaurants in town. It was called 'Tamarind Shrimp', and when I ordered it, I thought it was going to be fried, breaded shrimp, tossed in a citrusy sauce, and served with rice. I was less than excited. Lo and behold,  when it arrived, I was greeted with stir fried shrimp in a tamarind sauce over fresh spinach, with rice. It was so fresh and so good, and I wanted to make it at home.

First, I started with some chopped scallions - about a cup - added to a tsp or so of olive oil. 

 I added some minced garlic.
 And sauteed them up. It only takes a second, so make sure you have your shrimps ready to go.
 I cooked this dinner for two, so I used three servings of raw shrimp, which I peeled and detailed. Then I dumped them in the pan. Sizzle Sizzle!
Next, the star of the show. Tamarind is a tropical fruit that can usually be bought in North America as a dried pod, a reconstituted mash, or a concentrate. I think the concentrate is the most bang for my buck, but I have to be very careful with it.
Looks innocent, but is really like black tar!
I drizzled in about a teaspoon worth of it.

Then, I added some asian flair -
Sweet chili sauce and ponzu. Ponzu is a citrus infused soy sauce. The fiance and I are actually starting to prefer it over regular soy sauce. It's delicious - but high in sodium. A little goes a long way! I added about 2 tbsp of sweet chili sauce and three dashes of Ponzu.

Finally, I invited a friend from my childhood over...doesn't it look just like PacMan?

Or, some people might prefer to think of it as a friendly dinosaur head...see the speck of an eye and the nose bump at the top? Maybe I'm just too imaginative.
Well, OhMyDarling went into the sauce as well, causing quite the commotion and steam.
Finally, when the steam died down, I had a nice looking dish.
Taste it? Not sweet enough...add sweet chili. Not salty enough...add Ponzu. Too salty/sweet...add some acid, like lemon or lime juice.

I plated it up just like it was served in the restaurant (please, please notice the effort....a nice rice cake, beautiful greens...I'm trying here, people!) and added a side of sauteed zucchini.

Then, I ate it. And the fiance ate it. And we declared it delicious. Here's the short recipe-style for those of you in a hurry:

Tamarind Shrimp

3 servings medium, tail on, raw shrimp. Peel and de-tail. 
1 tsp olive oil
1 c chopped scallions
1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp tamarind concentrate (substitution: double or triple the amount of citrus fruit juice)
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp Ponzu or soy sauce
Juice of 1 clementine or any citrus fruit

Raw Spinach
Cooked Rice

Saute scallion and garlic in olive oil. Add shrimp and ginger. Add sauce components. Stir until shrimp are pink. You may need to add 1/4-1/2 c water to keep it from sticking to the pan too much. Sauce should be like a clear/pink gravy. 

Serve hot on raw greens. Rice on the side. Enjoy!

I read some crazy article this week about how highly correlated obesity is among friends - i.e. if you have fat friends, you are also likely fat. This was a survey-based article and it indicated that, despite having a negative opinion about overweight people and unhealthy habits, people clustered into groups that had a high correlation with weight class. It also indicates that having overweight family members highly correlates with being overweight or obese.  I'm wondering if this is due to social norms, where you are friends with people you feel understand you and have commonalities, and therefore because you are overweight you pick overweight friends? I mean, I might have it completely wrong. I'd like to see a social experiment like 'The Colony'  where random people settle in a town, some overweight and some not, and see what kind of social groups form. I think that would be more informative than a survey.

What do you think about the 'cluster behavior' study?


  1. Wow that looks delicious! I'm always intimidated by raw shrimp, do you think this would be as delicious with frozen ones?
    Interesting article, I'm always skeptical of this type of 'research' myself! I did hear about a similar argument that claimed people who had a freshman roommate who was more overweight than they were more likely the freshmen who gained the "freshman 5-15", but I think this is linked to eating habits more than social norms? The Colony was such a cool idea, I'm sure it'd make a great tv show.


  2. Thanks Chelle!

    I've tried it with the precooked shrimp, and I think that it's ok. The sauce is really the star anyway.

    I buy my raw shrimp individually quick frozen in the freezer section, and then I just dump them in some warm water to thaw if that takes some of the worry about using/keeping raw seafood on hand.

  3. I love tamarind, that looks great!

    I was not surprised at all by that obesity study. First, obesity is correlated with SES and social networks are generally pretty homogeneous that way. And, people pick friends who have similar interests and, like you said, share similar social norms. I don't know many overweight people, but that's not a shock seeing as almost my entire social network is made up of educated, upper middle class individuals...many of whom I met at the gym!