April 3, 2014
Chang’s mom gave me this huge bag of frozen shrimp a few weeks ago and I never got around to cooking it. Every time we saw her she’d ask, “Did you try the shrimp yet?” and I’d shamefully shake my head and admit that I hadn’t figure out what to do with it yet. Stir fry shrimp and eggs? Shrimp with edamame? Overdone. That’s the extent of my Chinese shrimp cooking skills, those two recipes. Then literally out of sheer laziness because it requires no peeling, it occurred to me that I could make the ketchup stir fry prawns I’ve seen my own mother make with those giant tiger prawns. Too ambitious? Maybe. I called my mother to ask for her recipe but she was busy and forgot to call me back. 7:00pm came and went. Chang and I were getting hungry.
So I winged it.
- 1.5 lb fresh or thawed prawns, heads off shells ON
- corn starch
- oil (high smoke point, like avocado or peanut)
- 2 stalks green onions, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp grated/minced ginger*
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- ~2 tbs brown sugar, loose
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
*if you don’t have fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp or so of ginger powder mixed into the sauce will do.
- Rinse prawns under cold water (this will thaw them quickly, too, if they’re still frozen). Drain well. Line paper towel over baking pan and place prawns in.
- Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl
- Dry prawns thoroughly with more paper towels (always make sure whatever it is you’re frying is very very dry. It will crisp better and you wont have as much splash back of hot oil when it hits the pan.).
- Remove paper towels, mop up baking pan so everything is dry. Lightly salt prawns. Coat with 3-4 tbs cornstarch. Toss and mix.
- Heat large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When pan is hot (you wont be able to hold your palm right over the pan for over 5 seconds if it’s hot enough), add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until oil shimmers.
- Slowly add prawns in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches). Fry until the cooked orange edges creep up and over to the top side. Flip and cook other side. Both sides should be orange, with just-golden brown and crisp shells. Remove and set aside.
- Drain oil so that only a thin layer is left. Add minced garlic/ginger/green onion and quickly stir until aromatic. (You WILL be able to smell it.) Do NOT burn garlic, this does not take long. Add shrimp back in and toss to coat. Spoon in sauce, not all at once, but enough to coat the shrimp. (You can always add more, but you can’t take out.). Remove and serve!
Woohoo! Yay for winging it! I feel like a real adult now. I’m making grown up dishes! By myself! Who needs mama now?! Yea OK, technically Chang’s mom gave me the shrimp… but I made it into a MEAL! Annndddd ’cause that about hits my grown up-ness quota for the week, I served it with my favorite college lazy dish: BBQ noodles. Literally ate this 3 out of 7 nights back then.
- dried noodles (I like the thin japanese variety, or the curly ramen-like noodles)
- scallions (minced)
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp Chinese BBQ (sha cha)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- Optional Toppings: soft poached egg, veggies
- Cook noodles.
- Mix rest of the ingredients in serving bowl.
- Add and mix noodles when cooked.
- Top with egg and/or veggies.
August 24, 2012
Here is my easy/no fuss version of Kung Pao Chicken. I always though Kung Pao Chicken was just another one of those fake Chinese food dishes you get at those ubiquitous Asian fast food joints with the fat and fluffy ursine mascot. I believed this for most of my life, until the day I actually ORdered this dish from [insert panda themed restaurant name] and was like, “wait. my mom makes this.”
So yea. I’ll eat my own words. I guess this stuff is authentic after all.
Anyway, I believe stir fry purists would say you should 1) marinate for 30 min then cook the chicken until mostly done, remove. 2) heat oil back up again, add garlic, fresh ginger, and chilies to release the full flavors, then 3) add the chicken back in, the sauce, then the green onions, and lastly the nuts (my mother uses peanuts).
But MAN that sounds way too complicated. And after a long freaking day at work, I do NOT want to have to think about “what do I do next again?” Solution? Add everything into the marinade. Sure my mom still makes it better. But mine is FASTER. and with WHITE meat. JUICY white meat, I might add… because I marinate overnight instead of on the counter for 30 min (I chalk that tradition up to the fact that my ancestors did not have refrigerators and to let your chicken sit overnight is to kill your whole family w/ salmonella.)
So here goes. Kung Pao Chicken, simplified:
- 1.5 lb chicken tenders
- ~1/2+ cup soy sauce or enough to cover chicken
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1-2 tsp sesame oil
- ~5 dried chili peppers, sliced diagonally
- 1 tbs dark brown sugar
- 1-2 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tbs Chinese rice wine
- optional: Chinese black vinegar (I had none. Didn’t miss it)
- 2 talks green onion, chopped in 2 inch sections
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews
- oil for stir frying (NOT olive oil. something with a high smoke point like peanut oil is better)
- Cut chicken into small pieces, about 1 inch cube.
- In a deep container (I like to use glass tupperware) mix soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, chili peppers, and corn starch until thickened. Adjust to taste. Add chicken, cover, and marinate overnight (if using dark meat, 15-30 minutes is plenty. Overnight is if you want to make
healthy crappy white meat juicier.).
- Heat a wok or large frying pan on high. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add chicken and marinade. Stir until chicken is cooked through. Add green onions and cashews. Toss until green onions become fragrant (1 min or so). Remove from heat and serve.
Stir Fry Tips:
- Use a hot Guo1, or pot/wok. I mean HOT. Like smoking red hot. Then add oil and let it heat until shimmery. Always. Hot pot and hot oil = less crap sticking to your pan.
- Always add green onion last. You still want to stir fry it a bit to let the flavors release (you’ll be able to smell it when it does), but cook it any longer than absolutely necessary and you’ll get limp ugly green onion. Green onion should act as a garnish as well as an aromatic. It should be bright, green, and pretty.
Thank you, Mama Chen for teaching me well.
May 30, 2012
I’m two days into my “detox”, after a weekend of gluttony in LA for the Memorial Day holiday, and all I can think about is some good old greasy fake Chinese food. Here was my compromise:
This is a WONDERFUL imitation beef. Good firm texture, minimal soy flavor, and the best part? “Lightly Seasoned.” I don’t have to worry about my stir fry tasting like thyme and parsley. This makes them very versatile. At ~$3 bucks a package, I will be stocking up.
I love Trader Joe’s. I love their prepared food section, I love their affordable prices, and most of all, I love SPECULOOS. Holy crap. speculoos filled chocolate bars? Screw this diet. For those of you who are all “speck-you-what?” Speculoos is a nutty spread, much like an illegitimate love child of nutella and caramel. Too good to be true. But oh. It is. Ladies and gentlemen, speculoos IS real. Say it with me now: speculoooooos. And it is slathered over many a waffle in the food truck lined streets of New York City. So delectably decadent, that the last time I was in New York, the whole city was SOLD OUT. I kid you not.
But I digress. Back to fake – fake Chinese food.
- 1 package of Trader Joe’s Beef-Less strips
- ~2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ~2 tbs soy sauce*
- 3-4 tbs oyster sauce
- 1 dash sesame oil
- 1-2 tsp corn starch
- 1/3 cup water
*like all chinese stir fry, I season to taste. Excuse my approximations. Soy sauces very widely in saltiness.
- In a small mixing bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and slowly stir in corn starch to thicken into a consistency of ….thick chowder. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.
- Warm a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add broccoli and a dash of water. Cover and steam, shaking pan frequently without removing cover to mix. Steam ~3 minutes. Uncover and remove broccoli.
- Heat 1-2 tbs oil in skillet until shimmery hot. Add beef and break up the strips. Lightly brown evenly. Strips are already cooked. You are basically just browning and warming.
- Add florets, garlic, and toss. When garlic becomes fragrant (~1 min), add sauce. Mix. Thin with a water if you want soupier sauce.
Mmm, mmm good. And healthy! AND vegetarian!
February 16, 2012
Follow recipe for Chicken Bulgogi, using thin sliced ribeye instead of chicken breast.
February 7, 2012
- 2 chicken breasts, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- carrots, sliced
- green onion
- bulgogi BBQ marinade (purchased at korean supermarket)
Marinate meat in onions and BBQ sauce overnight. Heat oil in large frying pan. Stir fry meat. Plate meat and set aside. Add veggies. Stir fry on high heat for a 1-2 minutes, then cover and let broccoli steam for 5 minutes. Add meat back in, along with green onions. Stir, then plate and serve.
February 3, 2012
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 stalk of green onion
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 1 tbs rice wine
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Mix rice wine into beaten eggs. In a wok or frying pan, heat a bit more sesame oil or vegetable oil over medium heat. Scramble eggs until still a bit runny. Remove and set aside. Raise heat to medium high and add tomatoes to pan. Add a pinch of salt. Stir fry until soft and some of the liquid is reduced ~ 3 min. Add green onions and egg back in. Stir and mix, breaking up the larger pieces of egg. Salt to taste. Remove and plate.