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Stir-Fried Shrimp with Lemon and Almonds
Serves 2 as a main course, 3 to 4 as part of a multicourse meal

1 large egg white
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 pound fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut lengthwise in half

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green and white scallion rings
1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce

3 ounces sugar snap peas
3 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch squares
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 small carrot, cut diagonally into 1/8-inch-thick coins
2 ribs celery, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick commas
1/4 pound baby Chinese celery cabbage, cut in half, if large
Zest of 1 scrubbed lemon, cut into very fine julienne
4 to 6 fresh water chestnuts, cut into thin coins
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold unsalted
chicken stock or water
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted

Shallow-frying the almonds gives them a wonderful crunch and sheen.
However, if you are oil-shy, you can bake them instead.

Toasted: Buy raw, unseasoned nuts to begin with. Preheat the oven
to 350 degrees F. and move a rack to the middle position. Use a
jelly-roll pan (a baking sheet with sides) and spread the nuts in
a thin, even layer to within an inch of the edge. The sides of
the pan generate excess heat, and nuts placed close to them will
darken too quickly. When the nuts are just beginning to color,
pull the pan from the oven and shuffle the nuts around before
returning them to the oven. This ensures even cooking. Move
quickly. Finally, remove the nuts from the oven when they are a
shade lighter than desired and let them cool on the pan. They will
continue to darken from their own internal heat as they cool.

Fried: Use raw, plump, skinless nuts of the best quality. Use
fresh corn or peanut oil that has not been used before. Fry only
as many nuts as you need at one time. Fill your frying vessel with
oil to a depth of at least 1-1/2-inches and give the nuts plenty
of room to float. A round-bottomed wok, because of its shape, is
most economical of all. If you're frying more than a cup of nuts
in a standard-size home wok or large skillet, fry in two or three
batches. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees F and adjust the heat so
the temperature doesn't rise. Balance a deep-fry thermometer on
the side of the pan so you can check the temperature before and
during the frying. Stir the nuts gently while they fry to ensure
even coloring. Expect nuts to fry quickly, and watch them like a
hawk. A single cup of room-temperature peanuts will fry to doneness
in about 35 seconds. Remove nuts promptly from oil when a shade
or two lighter than desired. You can set a heatproof strainer over
a heatproof bowl and carefully pour the nuts and oil into the
strainer. To cool, crisp, and drain properly, immediately spread
fried nuts in a single layer on a large platter or jelly roll pan
lined with a triple thickness of paper towels.)

In a bowl, briskly whisk the egg white, rice wine, salt, and
cornstarch through the cornstarch until thick. Add the shrimp and
toss well. Seal airtight and marinate in the refrigerator for
several hours or overnight. Let come to room temperature and
re-toss before cooking.

Combine the ginger, garlic, scallions and chili flakes in a small
bowl and cover until ready to use.

Combine the stock, rice wine, soy, lemon juice, sugar, salt and
chili sauce through the chili sauce in a bowl. Stir to blend,
leaving the spoon in the bowl.

Blanch the snap peas in rapidly boiling water until cooked but
still crunchy, about 1 minute. Immerse in ice water to chill.
Drain and set aside. All the above steps, along with cutting the
vegetables, may be done a full day in advance. Seal and refrigerate
the ingredients; be sure to bring them to room temperature before

About 15 minutes before serving, bring a small pot of water to a
steaming near simmer. Add the shrimp, stir gently to separate,
and cook until 60 percent opaque, about 20 seconds. Drain promptly
and set aside. The shrimp will be raw in the center.

Heat a wok or deep heavy skillet over high heat until hot enough
to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add 2 tablespoons of the
oil and swirl to glaze the pan. When the oil is hot enough to
sizzle a scallion ring, reduce the heat to moderate and add the
aromatics. Adjust the heat so they foam without browning and stir
gently until fully fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the onion and
stir-fry briskly until slightly translucent, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes,
adjusting the heat so they crackle without burning. Don't worry
if they pick up a bit of brown; they will be flavorful. Add the
bell pepper and stir-fry until the pepper squares are slightly
softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the carrots and celery and toss until hot, another 1 to 2
minutes. Drizzle a bit more oil down the side of the pan, if needed
to prevent sticking. Add the celery cabbage and toss until just
slightly wilted. Add the lemon zest, snap peas, and water chestnuts,
and toss together briefly to blend.

Stir the sauce to recombine it and add it to the pan. Turn up the
heat to high, cover the pan, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir
the cornstarch mixture and add it to the pan. Stir the sauce until
glossy, 10 to 20 seconds. Add the shrimp and toss gently to mix.
Serve immediately on a heated platter of contrasting color. Garnish
with the almonds scattered on top.


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