Tuesday, March 6, 2007

#49: Fragrant-and-Hot Tiger Prawns

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.

Fragrant-and-Hot Tiger Prawns
xiang la xia

1 lb. tiger prawns or jumbo shrimp, thawed if frozen
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. chili bean paste
1 tsp. chopped salted chiles
3 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 cup peanut oil for 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.


deinin said...

Oh, that looks so fabulous! I've been meaning to get a Chinese cookbook, I guess the Revolutionary Chinese Cooking would be a good starting point?

zorra said...

These look just great!

Kate said...

That looks great, Rachel. I have really been enjoying your Chinese cuisine recipes. They all look wonderful.

This recipe has been tempting me, but I have trouble with eating shrimp as I had food poisoning from them ages ago and still haven't been able to go back to them. I might do the recipe with chicken, or possibly scallops.

Brilynn said...

Oh man I want some of that right now! I've been doing some experimenting lately from my Hot and Spicy cookbook, I love it.

Linda said...

i love this photo. and it looks so flavorful and delicious. really wonderful. thanks for posting the recipe.