SHRIMP WITH LOBSTER SAUCE (CHINESE)
For the record, "shrimp with lobster sauce" contains no lobster. It's called
that because the sauce is traditionally served WITH lobster rather than
shrimp, in which case English menus often call it "Lobster Cantonese."
Actually, this dish -- like a lot in the standard repertoire here -- started
out with a cookbook rendition but has sort of evolved with many iterations.
The original is in an excellent book that I've had for 10 or 15 years,
doubtful it's still in print, but if you see it in a used bookstore, grab it:
The Gourmet Chinese Regional Cookbook, by Calvin B. T. Lee and Audrey
Here's my current version, much evolved from the original. Since stir-frying
is a very fast process (invented, they say, to save scarce fuel), it's crucial
to have all your ingredients out, chopped and organized before you fire up the
- Prepare 3/4 pound to 1 pound large shrimp. If you buy 'em fresh, simmer
them in lots of simmering salted water with an onion and garlic clove for 4
minutes or so, just until cooked through. You don't want to overcook, as
they'll cook a bit more later in the process, and overcooked shrimpies turn
leathery and tough. Let them cool, shell, and set aside. Or you could start
with store-bought cooked and shelled shrimp, but where's the fun in that?
- Set aside two thick "coins" of fresh ginger; vegetable oil (peanut oil is
good for stir-frying); 8 ounces of uncooked ground pork (or chop your own from
whatever pork you've got lying around); 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in
about 1/4 cup water; 1 egg, lightly stirred with 1 tablespoon water in a small
bowl until it's a little frothy; and 1 chopped scallion (green onion).
- Prepare the two components of the sauce:
- In a small bowl mix 1 cup chicken stock; 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar; 1
tablespoon dark soy sauce (I use the Pearl River brand Superior Soy from
China); and 2 tablespoons leftover Sherry (Any style will do. I always keep a
jug-o-leftovers on the refrigerator door for Chinese cooking, and when it gets
low, this signals that it's time to treat myself to another bottle of Emilio
Lustau. Drink a couple glasses, save the rest for cooking.)
- In another bowl mix 4 tablespoons black beans (sold in jars at Asian
groceries); and as much minced garlic as you can handle, at least a
- STIR-FRY: Once you've got all the above laid out around the stove where
you can find it, heat the wok until it's quite hot, then splash in peanut oil
(enough to coat the bottom, not to make a lake) and, when it's sizzling, throw
in the ginger, give a couple of quick stirs, and add the ground pork. Stirring
quickly, so it won't stick, fry just until it loses its raw pink color, then
add the black-bean/garlic mixture and give it a few more turns. The kitchen
should be smelling pretty good at this point, whereupon you add the broth/soy
mix, bring to the simmer, stir, reduce heat, cover, and let it all simmer for
a couple of minutes. Remove the lid, put in the shrimp and let them simmer
just long enough to reheat. Stir in the cornstarch/water mixture and, as soon
as the sauce thickens, turn off the heat and drizzle the egg all over the top.
Re-cover and let it stand, off heat, just till the egg sets. Stir in the now-
scrambled egg, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with the scallions.
It's not as hard to make as it looks in print. Honest!
White rice and a green salad make it a meal, and the robust flavors call for a
gutsy white, maybe an Alsace Riesling, Gewurz or Pinot Blanc or a mighty rich