My one pet peeve with this recipe (and with a lot of Chinese cooking) is the amount of peanut oil that you end up using. So much Chinese cooking requires large amounts of peanut oil or vegetable oil to "pass through" (aka deep-fry briefly). I try to cut down on the amount of oil whenever possible, but there is only so much you can do with some recipes. While I dislike disposing of this much oil, I have to admit that briefly deep-frying the shrimp in their shells gave the dish great flavor and texture. The shrimp were succulent and juicy. And the other ingredients in the stir-fry gave the shrimp a slightly spicy, finger-licking good shrimpy flavor. Alex thinks these prawns rank right in the middle of our Chinese New Year meals thus far - #1 was the Pork and Napa Cabbage Water Dumplings, then the Ants Climbing a Tree, Fragrant-and-Hot Numbing Tiger Prawns, Xinjiang Lamb Kebobs and his least favorite meal was Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd. I'm not sure exactly where I would rank the shrimp, but they would definitely be in the top 3. I think I would rank the Ants Climbing a Tree above the dumplings and I might rank tonight's prawns above the dumplings. The daikon slivers were by far my favorite side that I have made thus far (followed by the naan and sauteed watercress), but if we are just judging the meals based on the entrees themselves, I would probably rank the dishes in that order (followed by the lamb and then the tofu).
We served our shrimp with some white rice and some sauteed yu choy. It was a very nice meal. I think we are going to take the next few days off from our Chinese New Year mission, but stay tuned later this week or this weekend for another installment!
Recipes after the jump!
Fragrant-and-Hot Numbing Tiger Prawns (Xiang La Xia)
Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province
By Fuchsia Dunlop
1 lb tiger prawns or jumbo shrimp, thawed if frozen
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp chili bean paste
1 tsp chopped salted chilis
3 tbsp water
1/4 tsp dark soy
2 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 tbsp red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup peanut oil, for cooking
Cut the heads off the prawns or shrimp, and remove the legs. Poke out as much as possible of their dark veins with a darning needle (we skipped this step). Rinse the prawns, then mix with the salt and Shaoxing wine and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Shake the prawns dry. Tip them into the wok and deep-fry for less than 30 seconds, until they have turned pink and are partially cooked. Remove prawns with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Pour off all but 3 tbsp of oil and lower heat to medium. Add ginger, garlic, chili bean paste and chopped salted chilis. Stir-fry until the oil is fragrant and stained deep red by the chilis. Add water and dark soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add prawns and cook over high heat to reduce the sauce, stirring constantly. When the water in the sauce has evaporated, add the scallions and bell pepper to give them a lick of heat.
Stir-Fried Yu Choy (aka Yau Choi and Choi Sum) with Oyster Sauce
Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
By Grace Young
12 oz yu choy (about 9 stalks)
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
Trim 1/4-inch from the stem end of each yu choy stalk. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise if 1/2-inch or more in diameter. In a small bowl combine the oyster sauce and fish sauce.