Makes 4 servings
One of my favorite South American experiences was visiting the famous Manaus banana market in Brazil, a warehouse for banana trading, where I had never seen so many bananas in my life. In the South Pacific, I learned that the Cavandish, which is the most common banana in U.S. markets, is offered as free pig food in Fiji, where workers still carry heavy "hands" of bananas on their heads from field to the market. There they are paid by the weight of their efforts, which brings to mind the true lyrics, "Hey, Mr. Tally Man, tally me bananas."
I've tasted dozens of varieties of bananas in markets around the world. Among my favorites are dwarf or finger bananas, which are common in tropical and subtropical climates, and are now available in our markets. Try them and experience their sweet flavor and creamy texture.
When I enjoy this dish served over basmati rice, I am reminded of dinners in beautiful and warm tropical places.
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons lime zest
½ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons curry powder
Dash of ground cloves
For the fruit:
2 firm, ripe bananas, halved horizontally, and cut into ½-inch strips
1 papaya, halved vertically and horizontally, and cut into ½-inch strips
For the shrimp:
1 tablespoon canola oil
16 ounces small (41 to 50 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Hot cooked rice
Sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish
Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
To prepare the fruit, pour half of the sauce (¼ cup) into a medium skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bananas and papaya. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring gently two or three times, for 2 minutes or until the fruit is heated through. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp. Heat the oil in a large skillet pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, green onions, and garlic; stir for 30 seconds or until the shrimp just begin to turn pink but are not thoroughly cooked. Add the remaining sauce; stir for 1 minute or until the shrimp are thoroughly cooked. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt.
To serve, spoon the fruit over the rice; top with the shrimp. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.