Another great meal I owe to my project to taste all the foods on Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to Try in 2007 list. #49 Hot Hunan Shrimp references the Revolutionary Chinese Cooking cookbook.
British cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop was the first foreigner—and one of only four women in her class—to study full-time at China’s leading culinary school, the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. In February, she’ll publish her second book, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, about Hunan culture and cuisine. This stir-fried shrimp, like most of her recipes, is remarkably doable—and bracingly spicy.
The only problem I have with this book being on the list as it specifies Hot Hunan Shrimp as #49 and there are only 3 shrimp recipes in the entire book: Fisherman's Shrimp with Chinese Chives, Fragrant-and-Hot Tiger Prawns, and Noodles with Fresh Shrimp and Baby Greens. I decided to try the Fragrant-and-Hot Tiger Prawns because it seems to be the "hottest" of the three. And it was delicious!
One thing to note is that the cooking is SUPER-FAST. I had to read the recipe a few times so I could remember everything I was supposed to do before I started. I still had to glance back at the book now and then, but the recipe is pretty simple and it kind of cooked itself.
I really want to dive into this book alot more. But I have some family coming into town and we are going to be out and about for an entire week. I probably won't even cook at all. So I'm using this as my bed-time reading. It's really interesting to learn all about the Hunan way of cooking.
Cut the heads off the prawns or shrimp, and remove the legs. Remove as much of their dark veins as possible.
Heat the oil in a wok over a high flame until it reaches 350 degrees. 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 with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil, and return the wok to a medium flame. Add the ginger, garlic, chili bean paste, and chopped salted chiles and stir-fry until the oil is wonderfully fragrant and stained a deep red by the chiles. Add the water and dark soy sauce and bring to a boil.
Add the prawns and then cook over a high flame 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. You should smell the fragrance of the onions after a few seconds, at which point remove the wok from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.