Mmmm, seafood. So good.
Have you ever come home to your apartment building and smelled what everyone was cooking? There is a cook on the floor above the Ryan and I that I would love to meet! I have no idea which of the four apartments up there it could be, but every time I walk in and start walking down the stairs, I can smell everything. The other day, she (or he?) was steaming Alaskan snow crab legs. I have smelled shrimp. I have smelled bacon. I have smelled roasts. And I somehow innately know that this person always cooks Southern comfort food. It just smells like hospitality. Call me crazy, but I swear it’s true.
Anyway, back to the crab legs and shrimp – all of those delectable smells have been giving me a hankering for shrimp and snow crab lately. Sadly, I try not to buy seafood (of the shellfish variety – normal fish is fine) that often because I will eat WAY too much of it. I mean way too much. I can eat a pound of snow crab legs, maybe two, by myself. And I’ll dip it in good ol’ melted butter – I know, right? So healthy (Hey, I’m a Marylander. We take crabs of all kinds seriously here – butter, Old Bay and beer, that’s all you need). If the Ryan and I had to incur that kind of grocery bill, we’d be begging for change on the streets. But I found a sweet deal on shrimp at the store the other day and I just couldn’t resist. To make the deal sweeter, the Ryan had casually mentioned that he’d like more shellfish/seafood variety in our diet, so this seemed perfect. 🙂
Because I’m lazy and enjoy doing other things on my weekends off (like shopping..and shopping..and sometimes I shop), I decided to break out all of the stir-fry books so I could cook the shrimp quickly, but do them in a fancy-schmancy flavorful way so it seemed like I put in effort. Let’s face it, sometimes you’re just not motivated to do the complicated stuff. I generally am (I just bought whole tamarind I am ambitiously going to make into juice, pulp, paste, etc.), but tonight I was just feeling “meh.” And we were supposed to go see The Avengers, so I had to make something yummy quickly so we could get out the door.
That’s where this little beauty stepped in:
I bought this book several years ago with my first wok. It is simple, has a lot of easily accessible ingredients, lovely pictures, and is written in a way that pretty much anyone can understand. Now that I have a bit more wok experience under my belt (I could tell you some serious stories of the stuff I screwed up while I was learning how to use it, though), I find that a lot of these recipes are pretty standard and not really unique. She changes up a lot of the veggies, but the basic components of rice wine, soy sauce, ginger and garlic pretty much grace every single recipe. I am on to more ambitious and complex ingredients, but for anyone looking to learn, this is definitely a good source. The thing I like the most about it, though, is that basic few staple ingredients – so if I haven’t been to the store in a while and only have a few things, I can still reliably throw together a decent tasting, quick meal in a pinch. And not all off the recipes are this way, so there is some variety. It helps people who are learning to be able to understand the basic components of building a legit stir-fry, and that is why I value it so much.
On to the shrimp! I had never de-veined shrimp before, so I had to Google it. This Simply Recipes guide was most helpful. I know what you’re thinking – “You grew up in Maryland and never de-veined a shrimp??” It’s true. My mom and brother hate shrimp and seafood, so I rarely got to eat it at home while I was growing up. It was mostly reserved for when we went out to eat, and I never had to worry about it then. I can peel them, though. Funny how that works sometimes, huh? If you need some tips on how to de-vein your own shrimp, check out that link, it won’t steer you wrong.
Let’s get started!
Ingredients! Peeled and Deveined Shrimp (1 lb), Corn Starch (5 & 1/2 tsp, divided), Salt (1/8 tsp), Ginger (1 tsp minced, peeled), Garlic (minced, 2 tsp), Tomato Paste (1 tbls – the recipe calls for ketchup, but we don’t keep ketchup in our house. I wasn’t about to go buy some just to use a tablespoon. So…yep, used paste), Cider Vinegar (1 tbls), Chinese Rice Wine (or dry Sherry – 1 tbls), Sugar (1 & 1/2 tbls), Canola Oil (1/2 cup), and Scallions (1 tbls).
In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp with 4 teaspoons of cornstarch and the salt.
In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 & 1/2 tsp cornstarch with 2 tsp water.
In another small bowl, combine the ginger and garlic.
In a final small bowl, whisk together the paste (or ketchup), cider vinegar, wine, sugar and 2 tablespoons of water.
One thing to remember about stir frying is that it is 95% prep – the cooking happens quickly at high heat, so you need everything prepped and ready to go.
In your wok, heat the oil over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Test the oil by dipping a spatula into the shrimp mixture and then into the oil. If it sizzles (as shown in the picture), it is ready to go.
Stir up the shrimp mixture and add it to the oil. Stir to keep the shrimp from sticking together. Cook until opaque and pink, approximately 1 minute.
Then remove the shrimp from the wok (the book says with a wire strainer, I used a slotted spoon :P) and drain on a paper towel.
Drain all but two of the tablespoons of oil and, over medium high heat, re-heat the oil. Then add the ginger and garlic.
Add the tomato mixture and stir a few times.
Re-add the shrimp and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil.
Stir the cornstarch mixture up and add to the wok. Stir until the sauce is thickened.
Add the green onions and give a few big stirs to just cook the onions.
Serve over some rice or noodles and enjoy!! You’re done.
***One thing I would recommend if you use tomato paste as opposed to ketchup is a *bit* more sugar.***
All in all, it came out deeeeelish! 😀 The Ryan ate it and enjoyed it, and I got to feed us seafood. Win/win in my book!! And hey! It’s a pretty color and looks like you put in a bunch of effort. Enjoy!