Kitchen Accomplice

Shrimp Vesuvian

By John Kirkendall

Do you, by any chance, remember the scene in Auntie Mame where Rosalind Russell went around the living room lighting everyone’s cocktails with a long wooden match.  This entrée reminds me of that. 

There is a difference: the cocktails in the movie gave off a blue smoke that looked like kerosene.  Here the flame is produced by an addition of warmed 150 proof rum – and when it burns off, your guests are left with a simply amazing entrée. 

The presentation is spectacular.  It features a cone-shaped center of citrus-scented jasmine rice (the mountain) with an indentation in the top (the crater — it is a volcano, don’t you know) and the crater is filled with a fired-up (literally) mango sauce.  The spicy coconut shrimp are arranged at the top, tails up and out, resembling a crown roast of lamb.  When presented the hot rum is ignited.  It is not only stunning but delicious as well, as you will discover.

The vegetable presentation is visually exciting as well.  It is a tender-crisp crisscross of buttered haricorts verts.  For a salad, think of something vertical.  Tender inside leaves of Romaine lettuce in a champagne glass with a small crystal container of Caesar dressing (use your favorite one) for dipping. 

A fork is not necessary for anything in the entrée course, except the rice.  Napkins aplenty should be on hand.  A warm moistened cloth here would be a welcome addition.  These can be offered to each guest with tongs at the conclusion of the entrée, followed by a bowl to retrieve the damp cloths.

This is one of those dishes that is easy to prepare but is made to appear complicated by its unusual presentation.  And while conventional wisdom says guests remember a dinner party only for its dessert, this entrée, believe me, is an exception!

Lime Jasmine Rice:

1 cup jasmine rice

3/4 cup coconut milk

3/4 cup water

Pinch salt

1/2 lime, zested

Put the rice, coconut milk, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and gently simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the lime zest.


1 mango, peeled and finely diced

3 scallions, sliced

5 basil leaves, julienned

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 fresh jalapenos, sliced

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2—inch piece ginger, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 lime, zested

1/4 cup coconut milk

Small handful basil leaves, torn

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

15 grinds pepper

1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp

Lime Jasmine Rice


For the salsa: Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Make up to a day in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp: In a mixing bowl, combine jalapenos, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, coconut milk, basil, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, refrigerated.

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat. Use tongs or a fork to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place in an even layer in the pan, reserving the marinade.

Cook the shrimp until well browned on each side, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer cooked shrimp to the mountain of rice you have placed on each serving plate artfully arranged with tails up and out.  Tent lightly with foil as you prepare the sauce.

Add reserved marinade to pan, bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Pour over the cooked shrimp and Lime Jasmine Rice.  Fill the crater with the Mango Salsa topped with warmed 150 proof rum which you ignite as you carry the plates to the table.

Judge Kirkendall is a retired Probate Judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. I am (thankfully) past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at


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