Okay. I was a little tough on modern day kids and their eating habits in my last post. So I thought it was only fair to set the record straight on my own (less than perfect) childhood food foibles. This Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp with Cucumber Salad recipe is a grown-up “do-over” from my very own childhood.
When I was a kid, there was nothing better than dinner out at a Chinese restaurant. My mother would get all dressed up like a movie star and my dad (then a young medical intern) would arrange his 16 hour shifts so that he could actually eat dinner with us. My brother, sister and I would even make an effort to behave in the car.
That’s because we were off to the land of all you can eat stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp– a place where we’d be allowed to drink hot tea and totally amp out on caffeine. Quiet and reserved was my typical modus operandi in public places (I wasn’t just a wallflower at this age I was wallpaper), but for some reason I’d lose all my inhibitions at Chinese restaurants.
Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp
I’m not saying that there were any Vietnam era Chinese restaurants in Salt Lake City, Utah that served Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp. No, these places were more likely to serve Moo Goo Gai Pan, sweet and sour pork or a style of fried rice that looked more like an omelette than any sort of grain. There was also hot tea served in tiny little cups from a tiny little teapot of my own. Either my parents had no idea what caffeine did to kids, or they just didn’t care– but I was never more animated than I was when I had to decide between Family Style Dinner #1 and Family Style Dinner #2.
I’m not saying that my parents didn’t do their best with we three kids in those days. But you have to remember my parents were practically babies themselves; they had a lot of growing up to do. My mother’s interest in French cooking was still a few years in the future. The “fancy” restaurants that my parents would soon favor (and finally be able to afford) were just a part of their fantasy life in those days. If stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp would keep their three kids occupied for 2 whole hours on the one night a week they (almost) had alone together, then those three kids got all the stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp my parents could afford.
Things changed for my family. I like to say Julia Child moved in. There was a big house and a modern kitchen. There was French food unlike anything the other kids were eating. But as the oldest of the three kids in my family, I was the only one who remembered the stale-crispy-noodles and fried shrimp from our Family Style Dinners #2.
Fried Udon-Wrapped Shrimp is my modern day reinterpretation of those childhood favorites. It may not take the place of those Chinese dinners where an 8 year old me could fawn over his movie star mom while singing the songs he’d be too shy to sing at school– but I promise you these shrimp are delicious and remind me of Family Style Dinners. GREG