Tag Archives: Thai

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp and My First Giveaway!

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a small company by the name of Country Bob’s. They wanted to know if I would be willing to give their All Purpose Sauces a try and let them know what I thought. Well, of course, we all like to get food goodies delivered to our door, so I said bring it on! Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauces arrived, as promised, in both the regular and spicy version.

This is a link to Country Bob’s website. Their products are sold in over 3000 stores in the United States, but honestly, I had never heard of them, so I was excited to give this stuff a try! I do know that they try to get the word out about their sauces by getting some bloggers to do posts. It is a great way to get noticed.

This is the information about their business and the All Purpose Sauce from their website:

In 1968 Country Bob perfected the sauce of his dreams. After years of giving the sauce to friends and family he began to sell it in 1977. The reaction was overwhelming just as it is today. Almost everyone who tries Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce becomes a lifelong user. And why not, it is the perfect complement to practically any meal set on your table.

It was actually October of 1982 when Country Bob, Inc. became the company, which remains today. Bob Edson,Terry Edson, Al Malekovic and Reed Malekovic formed a corporation with equal ownership. Since that time Country Bob’s distribution has magnified regionally in all directions from our corporate office located in Centralia, Illinois. Even with the tremendous growth we have not forgotten where we came from, continuing in our relentless pursuit of product excellence.

Along with our All Purpose Sauce we have expanded our product line to include BBQ Sauce, Seasoning Salt and Spicy All Purpose Sauce.With our fully automated bottling line we also have the capability of producing Private Label products for stores or restaurants.

Well, of course, you know which sauce I tried first (the spicy one!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was hot and spicy with a bit of sweetness, so my mind started racing, thinking…I decided that we could do better than just a little review. We could whip up a few pounds of shrimp with that sauce! We don’t mess around when it comes to food in this house! (I told you I started thinking…and we all know that can be dangerous!)

I wanted to create a shrimp dish with a little barbecue flavor…maybe served on rice…kind of creole style…I can tell you one thing, don’t ever let your man hear the word barbecue because after that, I had more hands than I could count in my kitchen tossing in everything but the actual physical bottle of Country Bob’s sauce! Before I knew it, after tasting the final marinade, I was in Thailand and not in Louisiana! So, we altered the plating and enjoyed a little Thai shrimp!

I have to say, this is one awesome shrimp dish! It is spicy hot with a bit of sweet and tangy twist to it! I couldn’t get enough of the sauce with the rice. It was also great as a sopping sauce with crusty french bread! It’s messy, but that’s half the fun of eating shrimp!

This would also be a fabulous appetizer. Serve the shrimp skewered (as we did in the photo at the top of the post) and your guests will love it! I like the fact that this is a versatile recipe. It just depends how many shrimp you want to eat….! We wanted to eat lots (because it was soooo good), therefore, appetizer portions were not on our menu! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp
Serves 8-10 as an appetizer
Serves 3-4 as an entree

2 pounds unpeeled, extra-large, fresh shrimp (We tried to find the ones with the heads on because they look so cool, but they were not available. If you do use them, you will need about 3 lbs. of shrimp.)

For marinade:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 cup Country Bobโ€™s Spicy All Purpose Sauce
1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Mix all ingredients. Add shrimp and toss thoroughly with the marinade. Place in a non-reactive, covered dish and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Periodically turn the shrimp over to marinate evenly.

To a large skillet add:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup Country Bobโ€™s Spicy All Purpose Sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Garnish for finished dish – lemon slices and chopped parsley (*or cilantro)

Melt butter over medium low heat and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Add marinated shrimp and raise heat to medium high. Stir to fully cover shrimp. (The higher heat is required to compensate for the cold shrimp when placed in the skillet.) Cook 2-3 minutes then turn shrimp to cook other side and cook another 2-3 minutes. Turn heat down to medium low. Shrimp should be fully cooked in a total time of 5-6 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp). Check often so as not to over cook.

* Since I was originally thinking Louisiana barbecued shrimp, I had lemon and parsley to serve with the dish. With the Thai flavors, I think a little squeeze of fresh lime juice would be nice at the end along with some cilantro to garnish the dish.

We also had a taste test with the regular All Purpose Sauce and tried it on grilled steaks. I would prefer to use a little of the sauce in ground meat and then cook it. I am sure mixing the meat with the sauce would give burgers (beef or turkey) an awesome flavor! These sauces have so much character, I like the idea of using them in dishes, rather than on top of them.

So, now that you have some idea what to do with this sauce, how would you like to have 2 bottles of Country Bob’s show up at your door in a little food goodie box??? Thanks to Al at Country Bob’s, we are giving away 2 sets of 2 bottles each of their All Purpose Sauce (one regular and one spicy).

The question is – How can I enter to win the sauces???

This is how you do it:

Leave a comment on this post telling me what you might cook with Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce. Be sure to have your name/blog somewhere on the comment that I can contact you if you are a winner.

Extra Entries:

Here are four additional ways that you can enter.

1. Follow @bunkycooks on Twitter. Leave a comment here indicating that you are now a follower. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.

2. Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a comment here with a link to your tweet.

3. Become a fan of Bunkycooks on Facebook. Leave a comment here indicating you are now a fan. If you are already a fan, you can leave a comment saying you are.

4. Subscribe to Bunkycooks by RSS feed or email. Leave a comment saying you are now a subscriber. If you are already a subscriber, you can leave a comment saying you are.

You have to play to win (and you can play one time or five times!) The more times you leave a comment, the more chances you have to win! I will be using random.org (or my dog) to pick a winner (just kidding about the dog)! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The contest is only open to those of you in the US or Canada (I know, I know…bummer!)

This giveaway ends at 5 pm EST on Friday, March 19th.

Country Bob’s will be mailing the sauces direct to the winners, so I will need to hear back from the winners within 48 hours after notification to get your shipping info, otherwise, random.org will choose another winner.


Sweet and Spicy Thai Shrimp on Foodista



Filed under Country Bob's, Entrees, Recipes, Rice, Shrimp, Thai

That’s Some Kinda Smokin’ Hot Thai Chicken with Basil!

I should have known better….I know, I know…6 Thai chiles (seeds and all)! I just thought that Cooks Illustrated would not have created a dish THAT hot! Yikes! Aren’t they a bit more conservative??? We are talking meatloaf and apple pie here!

I have a great recipe for Thai Chicken with Basil that I force on my hubby every now and then. It is not his favorite dish, but you know, I just get this craving…similar to the craving for Pad Thai or Tom Yum Soup. I’ve just gotta have it! But, of course, being the cooking kind of gal that I am, I had to try a new version!

So anyway, last night I just had to have this dish and I decided I would give the old Test Kitchen at Cooks Illustrated a shot at my usual recipe and do all the weird things this recipe wanted me to do (chopping chicken breast in the food processor, for one). They do not usually let me down… You never know, sometimes these quirky steps make for great tasting food. I was eying this funky version of Thai Chicken with Basil since I received the January/February issue a month or so ago, so I finally put it into play!

As I mentioned, I am no stranger to Thai chiles and I know just how hot they are, but there was all this chatter in the article on the dish about how the brain reacts to the combination of sweet and sour in Thai dishes. The little bit of added sugar was supposed to counteract all the heat from the chiles and since I am incredibly gullible, I said okay, sure. I will give that a whirl! Well, let me just tell you, that ain’t happening! We like stuff hot, but this was inferno! We are talking chugging water, eating bowls of rice, hunks of bread….! Woe dog! I was surprised to still have a stomach this morning! I was looking to start popping those little purple pills!

If you can get past the heat, there actually was a nice flavor (I think!?) from the very different stir fry method that Cooks Illustrated came up with. There were 2 cups of basil leaves in the dish that were mixed in at different intervals to keep the flavors fresh (who would be able to tell???). I would say 2 to 3 chiles would do the trick for heat and then you might have an eatable stir fry dish. I thought it was quite humorous (or suicidal) that they suggested you might want to pass some more hot stuff for serving as in the addition of red pepper flakes…who are we feeding?? Funny thing is, they said that this was a mild version?! I am beginning to think this was a cruel joke!

I have not had a dinner disaster in awhile, but this was certainly borderline last night. When my hubby says what else is for dinner after I spent all this time cooking and we could barely eat this dish due to the level of heat, then it is a bad night in our house!

Proceed with extreme caution in preparing this recipe (and have a fire extinguisher nearby!)! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thai-Style Chicken with Basil (from Cooks Illustrated)

* My notes are in parentheses.
2 cups fresh basil leaves , tightly packed
3 medium garlic cloves , peeled
6 green or red Thai chiles , stemmed (cut back on this by at least half!)
2 tablespoons fish sauce , plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar , plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon sugar , plus extra for serving
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast , cut into 2-inch pieces
3 medium shallots , peeled and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Red pepper flakes , for serving (yeah, right!)

1. Process 1 cup basil leaves, garlic, and chiles in food processor until finely chopped, 6 to 10 one-second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once during processing. Transfer 1 tablespoon basil mixture to small bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar; set aside. Transfer remaining basil mixture to 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet. Do not wash food processor bowl.

2. Pulse chicken and 1 tablespoon fish sauce in food processor until meat is chopped into -approximate 1/4-inch pieces, six to eight 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl and refrigerate 15 minutes.
3. Stir shallots and oil into basil mixture in skillet. Heat over medium-low heat (mixture should start to sizzle after about 11/2 minutes; if it doesnโ€™t, adjust heat accordingly), stirring constantly, until garlic and shallots are golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Add chicken, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring and breaking up chicken with potato masher or rubber spatula, until only traces of pink remain, 2 to 4 minutes. Add reserved basil-fish sauce mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly until chicken is no longer pink, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining cup basil leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until basil is wilted, 30 to 60 seconds. Serve immediately, passing extra fish sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and vinegar separately.

Raw chicken just ain't pretty!

By the way, if you are into food science, here is a link to the Scoville Scale and information concerning how much capsaicin is in certain types of peppers and why we feel the “heat” like we do when eating spicy dishes. Forget about all this other food chemistry stuff! If it has 6 Thai peppers, it’s gonna be HOT!


Filed under Basil, Chicken, Entrees, Hot peppers, Recipes, Thai

Yum! Yum! Tom Yum Soup

I have had a real craving lately for hot and spicy dishes (no, I am not expecting). I have been trying to eat healthier foods, so sometimes a little spice or heat adds the flavors that I miss from my “usual” cooking. So, I have been going back into the archives to retrieve some oldies and goodies that I knew would satisfy that craving!

I first discovered one of my favorite hot and spicy soups about 6 years ago when we had some friends come to visit us for a weekend. The husband brought all the goodies to cook a Thai dinner for us the first evening. I could not tell you what exactly he cooked for the main dish. I do know that it was some traditional Thai dish and it was made in a wok. I can, however, tell you that he made one awesome Tom Yum Soup that night! It was really off the charts on the hot and spicy meter (we all had beads of perspiration on our foreheads!), and the flavors were fabulous!

I had never had Tom Yum Soup until that weekend. I had my usual Thai favorites that I always ordered out in a restaurant (Pad Thai (naturally), basil rolls, chicken satay, Thai green curry, etc.), but I rarely ordered soup because it is too much food for me with all the rice, etc. But now that I was a devotee, I had to find out what was in this stuff and make it myself! My neighbor actually used a lot of dried ingredients that evening (lemon grass, Thai chilis, etc.) because even a few years back it was far more difficult to locate all the fresh ingredients.

Needless to say, there was some trial and error in the process to find the perfect Tom Yum Soup. At one point I found a pretty decent recipe with all the right flavors, but I still wanted to do better. I even ordered Tom Yum Soup at a few Thai restaurants and felt that they were not all that good. The kick was missing. What I was making at home was far better (so said my hubby). My friend said that he really did not have a particular recipe (just in case you are wondering). He made it a bit different most every time he made it, depending on what ingredients he could find.

Regardless of the recipe, most of them had similar ingredients. And because it was more difficult several years ago for me to find some of the key ingredients, I would chop up lemon grass and freeze it when I did find it so that it would be on hand if I decided I wanted it and it was not available fresh. I did the same with Kaffir lime leaves and galanga root. I would suggest doing that if you happen to come across these things. They last a long time in the freezer and they are key ingredients in so many Thai dishes. I know that it is much easier now to locate specialty items. I am fortunate enough to have an International market not far from home if Whole Foods does not have what I need. However, Murphy’s Law always occurs when you are looking for something and you will not be able to find it, so just freeze it so it is always on hand in case you have the craving (and this soup is something you will crave!).

I finally located the perfect recipe in an older cookbook (1996). The book is The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking by Mai Pham. Her soup is actually called Yummy Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup, but it is definitely identical to Tom Yum Soup if you have ever had it and this is the best recipe I could find years ago. There are many versions of this soup online these days, but I still prefer this one. We also add chicken to the soup (Tom Yum Kai is the same soup base with chicken instead of shrimp). However, we have found that we enjoy it far more with both chicken and shrimp. It also becomes a much heartier soup with both. Here is my adaptation.

Yummy Hot and Sour Soup

2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
1 tsp. ground chili paste
1 fresh red Thai chili, sliced (discard the seeds if you want less heat)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or canola oil
1/2 lb. raw medium shrimp, peeled and rinsed (reserve the shells) – I use more shrimp than the original recipe.
5 cups homemade unsalted or canned low-sodium chicken stock (I use Swanson’s Organic)
1 small skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/4 strips (optional – see note)
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 1 inch pieces and bruised with the back of a knife
3 thin slices galanga
3 Kaffir lime leaves
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms (or straw mushrooms if you can find them)
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
10 fresh Thai basil leaves
5 fresh cilantro springs, chopped

Note – The original recipe does not call for the chicken, but we tried it and enjoyed it with both chicken and shrimp. It you use the chicken, you can cut the shrimp back to 1/3 pound.

* If you cannot find Kaffir lime leaves, you can use a little zest of fresh lime to taste. You can substitute regular basil for the Thai basil, but the soup will have a slightly different flavor. There really is no substitute for galanga root. Apparently, some stores may sell dried pieces, but search for the fresh root if possible.

Place the garlic, shallot, chili paste, chili, cilantro, and peppercorns into a mortar and pound into a paste. (I usually start the mixture in a mini food processor to break it down and then use the mortar and pestle).

Heat the oil in a soup pot over moderate heat. add the shrimp shells and brown until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spice mixture to the pot and heat until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the chicken stock and the chicken pieces (if you are using chicken) and let simmer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shells and discard.

Add the lemon grass, galanga, lime leaves, fish sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until almost done, about 2 minutes. (Shrimp will continue to cook, so do not overcook). Remove from heat and add lime juice, basil and cilantro. Serve piping hot.

This is a wonderfully flavored, hot and sour soup. You can certainly adjust the heat by reducing the amount of fresh chili, chili paste or peppercorns. My hubby likes it really hot, so I prepare it as above. If the fresh chili is small, I will throw the whole thing in, otherwise, I may leave all or some of the seeds out of the soup.

The soup is also filled with all sorts of yummy flavorings that you probably do not want to eat, so you will be fishing out the lemongrass and lime leaf pieces, but it is so worth it! The best version is truly made with all the authentic ingredients, so find them if you can!

Tom Yum Goong on Foodista


Filed under Recipes, Soups, Thai