Recipe (and photo!) Makeover: Shrimp with Warm Pineapple-Pepper Relish

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Hello, my darlings.

It’s been beyond forever since I’ve been able to post, and while I do have several updates for you, I needed – yes, NEEDED – to share something beautiful and delicious with you first.

The other day it occurred to me that even though I’ve been cooking these past couple of months, I haven’t been doing any creative cooking because of all the terrible things I’ve had to deal with recently. And that sucks. One thing is cooking for basic purposes, like survival or the occasional grilled cheese sandwich craving. But to cook creatively is also – at least for me – necessary for my survival.

I often play with my food like this, even if there's no special occasion going on. Food is art.

Like I said earlier, I’ve had more than enough major life problems happen recently (more than the usual), which makes me have to keep postponing my posts. I’m not the crank-out-a-crappy-post-just-to-post-something type and frankly, with some of the stuff that’s been thrown my way, there just hasn’t been enough time (seriously, this whole when-it-rains-it-pours-thing is very time consuming).

But during these extremely difficult last couple of months, I feel like I did myself a disservice by cooking only what I needed and not allowing my creative side to filter its way into my dining process. For a food blogger (at least this food blogger), that doesn’t just include developing new recipes, it also includes the beauty of making (not just taking, thanks Penny De Los Santos) new pictures, and just talking/writing about it. And while this isn’t a brand new recipe, and I wasn’t able to post about it right then and there, just waxing poetic about it on Facebook that night felt good.

Almost as good as this tasted.

I’ve been meaning to revise this recipe for years now, but not as much as I’ve wanted to change the photo. I’ve taken some horrific photos in my day, especially at the beginning of PGEW, but this one is probably the worst one. Why I even allowed it is beyond me, but there it is. And I’ve wanted to share it as a PGEW Recipe of the Day or on Pinterest, etc., but it was so darn ugly that I just couldn’t bear it.

So when I had this recent attack of “Screw everything, I NEED to be me” (meaning PGEW, not Worried About All These Major Problems Girl, not Can’t Stop Thinking About Work Girl), I went straight for the shrimp and pineapple I knew I had on hand. For a moment I considered fiddling with something new, but the sun was setting and part of my “need” that day was just to photograph food, so I stuck with this recipe revision.

And that was a fabulous decision.

Based on some reader suggestions and the produce I had on hand, I tweaked a few things and ended up with a really good dish turned awesome. They were very simple changes too: just a little bit of pineapple juice to make the relish more “relish-y” (some folks felt the original version was too dry), and mixing in chopped fresh cilantro at the very end. While the chopped scallion garnish from the original recipe was a fabulous addition (which would have ended up in this version if I’d had some… how did I run out of green onions, of all things?), the cilantro just took it to a different level. All of a sudden it popped with freshness and tasted like summer. And while we’re only at the beginning of spring, that’s not a bad thing (especially since so many of you are still covered in snow!).

If you’re one of those people who can’t stand cilantro, A) I’m sorry it tastes like soap to you! I wish you could taste what the rest of us taste, and B) no worries at all. You can stick with the scallions from the original recipe for a dash of color and extra flavor. If you’re a fan of both things like I am, and if you have them on hand, by all means use both!

Normally, I would stop here and direct you to the original recipe with the swanky new photos, but I’m being brave and leaving both the original recipe and the hideous original photo. Just because it’s fun to flash back every now & then and see how things have evolved   (and I do discuss a bit of the background of the dish as well). It’s also there to serve as inspiration for those of you who have told me you could never take fabulous food photos. This is absolute proof that practice – and a little patience – makes all the difference. And hopefully, it’ll make perfect eventually, too. : )

Shrimp with Warm Pineapple-Pepper Relish (makes 3-4 servings as an entree; average cost per serving: ~$3)

As I mention in the original recipe, you can serve this over noodles or rice for a nice dinner, or as a fun appetizer. I’ve photographed one serving suggestion for appetizers, but this would also go great atop some crostini for an outdoor dinner party or picnic as the warmer weather approaches. 

30 large fresh (or fresh frozen) tail-on shrimp, thawed
1 c frozen pineapple chunks, thawed
3/4 c sweet bell pepper strips
1/4 c pineapple juice
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/4 c chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped cilantro
2 T light cooking oil, divided
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
Chopped scallions and cilantro for garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the chopped red onions and cook quickly until just translucent. Add the peppers, pineapple, chile flakes and other seasonings. Cook until they begin to soften slightly, about 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the pineapple juice and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the mixture has reduced slightly and resembles a chunky marmalade or relish (which it is!). Remove from heat and set aside.

3. In a separate skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant. Next, add the thawed shrimp and quickly stir-fry until they turn pink. Sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper, then transfer to the relish and mix together.

4. Remove from heat and mix in the chopped cilantro. Garnish with chopped green onions or extra cilantro, a few extra crushed red chilies for good measure, and enjoy!

written by

singer. writer. artist. champagne taste, 2 buck chuck budget. good cook. kooky. chocoholic. patron saint of cats. talker. listener. thinker. sometimes to a fault.

4 Responses to "Recipe (and photo!) Makeover: Shrimp with Warm Pineapple-Pepper Relish"

  1. Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) says:

    It’s not the photos, it’s the food that matters! :) I still have really gross pictures 90% of the time. Oh well. This recipe looks fantastic. Where do you get shrimp so cheap? They totally don’t fit into my poor girl budget :\

    • Kimberly Morales says:

      Great question, Ashley!

      I look for really good deals for things like shrimp and the VERY occasional scallop craving. For fresh shrimp, I pay very close attention to any sales that are happening at local stores. If they happen to fit in with what’s in my wallet, I try to stock up because I know I can freeze what I don’t use immediately for use in later dishes. If you have an ethnic food store in your area, definitely check them out as well, as they often carry much higher quality seafood for a cheaper price. Last, but certainly not least: fresh frozen from places like Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find fresh frozen, you can certainly get the cooked frozen, and I’ve seen bags of 51-60 go for as low as $6.99 in places like Safeway, and $7.99 at Whole Foods! You won’t be using the entire bag for one meal, so even if it feels like a splurge at the store, you will get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s just a matter of paying close attention to sales and specials, and you’ll be on your way to fitting “fancy” ingredients (like I like to call them, lol) into your own Poor Girl budget. :)

  2. Natalie @ In Natalie's Shoes says:

    Haha! I love that you acknowledge those of us who HATE cilantro because it tastes/smells awful to us. I’m a huge fan of green onions, and look forward to trying this with the substitution and with chicken, since shrimp is not an option for me. Gorgeous pics, too!!

  3. Julia Menn says:

    Oh wow. A. Those pictures are absolutely fantastic! Kudos for keeping with it. I esp. love the first shot of them in the spoons. 2. I’m not a fan of shrimp. Or most seafood. But this recipe and those photos have me practically drooling and my stomach rumbling! This is definitely a recipe for me to try – and maybe it’ll change my feelings towards shrimp.

    Do you have a naturally white background/table? I’m trying to take nicer food pictures, but usually find my surroundings in my tiny, natural-light-less apartment unwilling to help a poor girl out.



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