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Chinese skillet shrimp 少油煎虾仁

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Chanced onto some real nice shrimp this morning at a decent price. Could not resist. Sautéed them quickly using a method that provided lots of flavor without much oil. I'll show you how. (Please click the photos to enlarge them.)

 

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This is 18 large shrimp, a little over a pound, 450 grams. Pull off the heads, remove the dorsal digestive vein, and either just cut away the legs or peel off the shells. Cooking them with the shells on makes them more juicy, but it means a little more trouble at the table. Today I opted to remove the shells, an operation which took a little over 10 minutes. Leave the tails attached. 

 

Wash the shrimp under running water and drain them in a strainer. Pat dry with a paper kitchen towel. Marinate in the fridge between 30 minutes and one hour covered with a sheet of plastic wrap 保鲜膜。The marinade consists of: 1 tablespoon each of yellow cooking wine 黄酒,light soy sauce 生抽,and oyster sauce 蚝油 plus a generous sprinkle each of sugar, salt, and ground white pepper.  

 

The longer marinating time allows them to cook fast and have less risk of drying out. While the shrimp are marinating, I prep some aromatics: a couple slices of young ginger 生姜, and a couple large single-head garlics 独蒜, finely minced. (Old ginger 老姜 and standard garlic are stronger; so use less of them.) Three to five dry red peppers 干辣椒 torn into two or three pieces. (If you can't get these, use crushed chili flakes.) Just before you're ready to fire up the pan, add about a tablespoon of corn starch 玉米淀粉 to the shrimp and mix well. This allows the marinade to coat them better, locking in more flavor. 

 

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Use a flat bottom non-stick pan for best results 平地不粘锅。Set it on the flame but don't let it get screeching hot before you add a generous tablespoon of a neutral oil (such as corn oil) and lay the shrimp in one at a time with chopsticks. Don't just dump them in; don't crowd the pan. Let them sear undisturbed for about a minute on medium heat. When the tails become deep pink, flip them and add the aromatics. 

 

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Another minute and they're done. Serve them up. 装盘。They go well with a simple vegetable and steamed rice. (I served these with baby bok choi 小白菜。) 

 

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These shrimp have a bold flavor and a pleasant texture. Quite a bit less oil than the method I showed you last time. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58622-spicy-chinese-twice-fried-shrimp-油炸虾仁/ 

 

Hope you will give them a try!

 

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Bibu

is this Yunnan style adding red pepper? first time saw this dish..

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889

That was my first impression, too: seems a bit over-powering for shrimp by Chinese standards.

 

But I do think food in Yunnan tends to be more heavily seasoned than in the southern coastal provinces. It's the only place in China where I always have to remember to ask for "no salt" when ordering. When I forget, I've gotten dishes I just can't eat.

 

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That was my first impression, too: seems a bit over-powering for shrimp by Chinese standards.

 

Yes, the peppers make it a "Yunnan-style" shrimp dish. It goes without saying that one could reduce the peppers, garlic, and ginger to suit one's taste. But I'm afraid your mental image of the dish is a little misleading. The flavors are bold instead of bland, but not at all aggressive or overpowering. This comes from several factors. 

 

Not surprisingly, the ginger being fresh ginger 生姜 shengjiang (instead of aged ginger 老姜 laojiiang) and the garlic being single-clove garlic 独蒜 dusuan (instead of the harsher standard garlic with many cloves per head) both have way less "bite." Same goes for the dried red peppers 干辣椒。The ones I use are a "high flavor/low to medium heat" variety. One tears them in half if they are an inch or more long, in thirds if they are longer. Seeds fall out and mix with the shrimp as cooking proceeds. (One does not eat the pods, which mostly stay intact.) Furthermore, the function of the sugar added to the marinade is to somewhat tame and moderate the peppers. It "smooths them out."

 

The seasoning combination winds up being very well balanced and not at all overpowering. When I made these yesterday, some of the spicy "crumbs" were left in the pan, becoming deeply caramelized and rich colored.. Before washing up, I ate them with a spoon. Hated for them to go to waste. Decadent and delicious. 

 

Most restaurant stovetop shrimp dishes must use more oil because they are fried in a hot wok, either stir-fried together with a vegetable, such as 莴笋炒虾仁,or battered and deep fried in oil, such as 脆皮油炸虾仁。 

 

7 hours ago, 889 said:

But I do think food in Yunnan tends to be more heavily seasoned than in the southern coastal provinces.

 

Yes, I agree with that. (And I dearly love the seafood dishes of Fujian and Zhejiang and Guangdong.) The cooking of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou is delicious in a different way. Speaking specifically of shrimp, to start with I would never buy dead shrimp on ice if I lived on the coast, whereas here I must. I would insist on live ones, vigorously jumping in the water tank. And I would cook them differently, extremely plain to showcase their delicate intrinsic flavor. My first choice then is 白煮 -- boiled plain very fast.  

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889

As long as we're talking about red chili peppers, in restaurants they nearly always come charred, which I assume adds to the taste and maybe lessens the heat I'm not sure. But yours don't seem charred hardly at all. Is there really a big difference between charred and not? Or do the dried ones not char as well as the fresh? Or maybe charring just makes the kitchen air too acrid?

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6 hours ago, 889 said:

As long as we're talking about red chili peppers, in restaurants they nearly always come charred, which I assume adds to the taste and maybe lessens the heat I'm not sure. But yours don't seem charred hardly at all.

 

This depends on cooking temperature. When making a sauté 煎 in a non-stick pan, like this recipe today, I don't exceed medium flame. If making a stir-fry 炒 in a wok, I crank the heat up to high. This gives the peppers a slight char, whether they are fresh or dried. I think it adds a desirable flavor dimension most of the time. 

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