Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Back to making savoury food

It seems that my last few posts have all been dessert related so I thought it was high time that I posted a savoury recipe instead lest you readers begin to think that I subsist slowly on sweets (although, frankly, if health wasn't an issue, I would). But that's a discussion for another time.

Ever since I got back from Toronto, I've been on an Asian food kick. I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that I had lots of my mom's wonderful home cooking while I was there. So, I've been trying out a few new recipes to broaden my Asian food repertoire.

One of the latest to grace our table is Kung Pao Shrimp. As Kung Pao <insert your favourite meat here> appears on many a Chinese menu in the west, some people seem to think that this dish is a western invention that doesn't exist in China. In reality, it does. Kung Pao chicken is a classic Sichuan dish which originated in the province of the same name. The dish is actually named after a late Qing dynasty official who served as the governor of Sichuan. The words Kung Pao actually originated from his title (Gong Bao) which translates as palatial guardian. There are differences, however, between the western and traditional Sichuan versions, the biggest of which is the use of Sichuan peppercorns in the latter which help to give the dish its distinctive hot, numbing flavour. If you can't take spicy food, lighten up on the peppercorns.

Kung Pao Shrimp

From Xi Yan

900g fresh medium seawater shrimps
20 dried chillies (sectioned)
ground Sichuan peppercorn

For the sauce:
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Zhenjiang vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Wash shrimps then shell them leaving the tails intact. Cut along the back and de-vein. Wipe dry then mix with salt and leave to marinate for 1/2 hour.

2. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl and test taste to suit.

3. Heat oil in wok. Add shrimps and deep fry until they are 70% done, start to curl and turn red. Strain and set aside.

4. Wash the wok and wipe dry. Heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add dried chillies and stir fry until they are slightly burnt. Add shrimps to wok and stir fry. Pour sauce onto shrimps and cook until it thickens slightly. Add ground Sichuan peppercorn and stir well.