A stir-fry dish with pungent and fragrant flavour, Kung Pao shrimp is a classic Chinese dish not to miss and it’s very simple to prepare at home.
I guess most people (if not all) who have some knowledge of Chinese food would know a dish called Kung Pao chicken, a classic stir-fry dish from Sichuan cuisine. Use the same cooking method and seasoning combination, you may replace chicken with other ingredients. Today I’d like to share the recipe of Kung Pao shrimp (宫保虾仁), one of my favourite ways to serve this delightful seafood.
A nice plate of Kung Pao shrimp delivers several appetizing flavours: spiciness from dried chilli (and fresh chilli if using), sweet & sour taste from the sauce mixed with a number of classic Chinese condiments, and the beautiful nutty flavour from roasted (or deep fried) peanuts (cashew nuts works too). In addition, to make it really authentic, don’t forget Sichuan pepper which offers a numbing sensation to your mouth.
Stir-fry (chǎo, 炒) is a well-known cooking method in Asian cuisine. However, do you know that there are several different types of stir-fry in which various techniques and approaches are involved? In terms of Kung Pao shrimp (or any other Kung Pao dish), you need to use the “Huá Chǎo (滑炒)” method which has the following features:
- The protein ingredient (meat, poultry, fish or seafood) needs to be marinated beforehand: a little Shaoxing rice wine (加链接) and some corn starch are usually required to balance the taste and lock in the moisture.
- The sauce is mixed prior to cooking instead of adding one condiment after another while cooking.
- There is always a certain quantity of corn starch in the sauce to help coat the main ingredients. Too little corn starch will result in a watery sauce. Excessive corn starch will make the sauce too thick and the finished dish will look overly sticky.
- It normally takes a very short time to cook. You need to have everything ready before heating up the wok (A powerful heat source is preferable). Move fast and do not over cook. The protein ingredient should remain tender and moist. The cooked vegetables should remain a little crunchy.
Other popular stir-fry dishes on my blog, such as Black pepper beef and Shredded pork with garlic sauce, use the same “Huá Chǎo” method. Once you understand its principle, you will soon get the hang of it. Then you will be free to create your own stir-fry dishes with your favourite ingredients and seasoning.
Hope you find my recipe of Kung Pao shrimp appealing. By the way, I’m organizing a Culinary tour of China which includes the capital of Sichuan province (the home of Kung Pao chicken) as one of the six destinations. Click the link below to find out more.