Make It For Your Date – Noodles with Shrimp & Pineapple

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Coconut Rice Noodles with Shrimp & Pineapple via ATK Cooking For Two

We all know the saying “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. This can also be a fairly speedy route to the female heart as well. Staying in and making your date dinner (or making it together) rates high on the romance scale. You get to show off your creativity and appreciation for nuance and details, even if it’s a simple dish. It’s no different from putting an outfit together. That’s what this series is all about. She or he will be left impressed, and you won’t need the skills of Wolfgang Puck.  

  • Familiar Ingredients:  vegetable oil, brown sugar, shrimp, pineapple, snow peas, lime juice, cilantro
  • Not So Familiar Ingredients: rice vermicelli, Thai chili (but serrano or jalepeno can replace it), Thai green curry paste, fish sauce, light coconut milk. If you cook a lot of Thai food, these ingredients should be very familiar.
  • Number of Pans/Pots you’ll need to make this dish:  One large cast iron or non-stick skillet, and one large bowl to let the rice noodles soak in.

Many of you are probably familiar with Cook’s Illustrated. Even if you’ve never picked one up, you’ve likely seen it. A fairly basic publication to look at from the outside, and even quickly paging through, but the genius of Cook’s Illustrated is in the detailed explanations, often scientific, on technique and ingredients. They’re not just telling you to make something, they’re telling you why their way is the best way to make it. Enter America’s Test Kitchen, the television counterpart to Cooks’s Illustrated. Christoper Kimball (he started the empire) and crew create half hour episodes of cooking, product, and ingredient testing. America’s Test Kitchen also puts out cooking publications, and that’s where this current recipe was sourced from. There’s not a link online for it, so you can find the full recipe at the bottom of this post (and in this book). But first, a few notes about the ingredients…

Coconut Noodles with Shrimp & Pineapple

Delicious and light, a great late summer meal

Rice Vermicelli – These are just super thin rice noodles. In the package it looks even thinner than angel hair pasta. Brands like Thai Kitchen say “vermicelli style” right on the package, and you should be able to easily find it in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

Thai Green Curry Paste – Another product you should have no problem finding in the Asian foods aisle of your local grocery store.

Thai chili – Your local grocer may or may not carry this type of chili, but if you have an Asian market with a produce section near you, they are almost guaranteed to have it. I opted to do one stop shopping for this recipe, so had to substitute a serrano pepper. One important note about prepping the pepper, I HIGHLY recommend using gloves. Normally I play with fire, and chop hot peppers glove-less, hoping to god I don’t rub my eyes before the pepper oils have come off my fingers. But on date night? The last thing you want is to be in the midst of a romantic dinner, reach up to touch your eye (or brush hair out of your date’s), and get capsaicin in an eyeball. No bueno. Unless your date digs the “pink eye” look, and you have an affinity for pain. And one final note about the pepper, remove the seeds and just toss them. According to the recipe you can add extra heat to the dish by using some of the seeds, but if you don’t know whether your date likes spicy foods, just avoid the seeds altogether. You can always add extra spice to yours with Siracha or red pepper flakes once you’ve dished up.

Final Note: Don’t replace ingredients in this dish. Keep the noodles vermicelli style, keep the coconut milk light, don’t futz with it. America’s Test Kitchen already did that, and this is the best way they found to prepare the dish. And the dish is quite delicious, very bright and perfect for summer. The final forward taste is citric, since the lime juice is added at the very end, so I’d opt for an easy drinking white wine, like a pinot gris or grigio, or even prosecco or champage (as long as it’s not TOO dry).

Wine and noodles

Coconut Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Pineapple

4 ounces rice vermicelli

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste

1 Thai, serrano, or jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeds reserved, and minced

4 teaspoons fish sauce

1½ teaspoons packed dark brown sugar

1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk

6 ounces medium-large shrimp (14 or so), peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1 cup ½-inch pineapple pieces

3 ounces snow peas, strings removed, halved crosswise on bias

1½ teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1. Cover noodles with very hot tap water in large bowl and stir to separate. Let noodles soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes; drain.

2. Cook oil, curry paste, and Thai chili in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until paste begins to sizzle and no longer smells raw, about 2 minutes. Stir in fish sauce and sugar and cook for 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk and simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes.

3. Gently stir in shrimp, pineapple, and snow peas and cook until shrimp are just opaque, about 3 minutes. Stir in drained noodles and cook, tossing gently, until shrimp are cooked through and noodles are well coated, 2 to 3  minutes. Off heat, stir in lime juice. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Sarah is a self proclaimed foodie and regular contributor to It’s been at least a year since she got capsaicin in her eyes. And no, she was not pepper sprayed. For more MIFYD posts, click here.