Friday, March 7, 2008
My Family's Shrimp Stir Fry
Eating shrimp was a messy affair when I was a kid. My parents always cooked shrimp with the shells on, which meant the sauce would get all over my fingers when I went to peel them. They tried to teach me how to peel shrimp "properly" aka not using my hands, by holding it with chopsticks and using my teeth to slowly nibble the shell off. Didn't happen. I did what any kid would do and went back to using my hands, because let's face it, it was faster and much easier. But having to wipe off my hands before taking a bite was slowing down my eating. So I got to thinking, how can I expedite the eating process and minimize the number of times I have to wipe my hands after peeling. Ah hah! Instead of peeling the shrimp one at a time and wiping my hands before picking up my chopsticks to take a bite, I decided to peel the shrimp all at once, slowly accumulating a small mountain of peeled shrimp on my rice bowl. When I deemed the number to be sufficient, I would wipe off my hands and commence the eating with no interruptions. What can I say, I was an efficient kid. Nowadays, I just peel all of the shrimp before cooking so I can skip the messy process of peeling them afterwards. And this way the sauce clings to the meat and not on the shell. Just be careful to not over cook the shrimp because there's no shell to protect the meat from the heat of the pan.
This is my family's simple shrimp stir fry recipe. It uses only a handful of ingredients and the dish cooks in about 3 minutes. The ginger and green onions flavor the oil as with many Chinese stir fries and the soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar create the sauce for the shrimp.
My Family's Shrimp Stir Fry
1 lb large shrimp, peeled
4 slices of ginger
2 - 3 green onions
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Shao Xing rice wine
1/2 tsp sugar
Dash of white pepper
First cut the green onions separating the lower light green and white part from the green tops. The light green/white parts can cooked longer than the more delicate green tops they are added first to the oil. Cut the green/white part in half lengthwise, then into 2 inch segments, this will help to release more flavor into the oil. Then for the remaining green tops, cut them into 2 inch segments. Keep them separate because these will be added a little later. Smash the ginger slices with the side of your knife to bruise them.
After peeling and washing the shrimp, pat them dry. You don't want excess water in the stir fry.
Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, almost smoking, add the white part of the green onion and the ginger slices. Cook these in the hot oil to bloom their flavor, for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then add the shrimp and the green part of the green onion and stir fry these together first really quickly, about 20 seconds. Add the soy sauce, wine, sugar, and white pepper, and cook until the shrimp are pink and no longer opaque. The sauce will have reduce and cling to the shrimp.