Makes 4 servings
The provenance of this southern dish is shared by the Hakka and the Cantonese. The historic popularity of salt-baked chicken over the years led to various foods being called "salt-baked" even though they were not. The process of water-blanching, coating, and oil-blanching approximates baking to the Hakka taste. To the Cantonese the dish is simply jiu yim, or "pepper salt," to denote its primary flavors.
1/2 pound medium-large shrimp
(about 12), feelers removed, shell slit
along vein, and deveined
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 quart peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh Thai chilies
1. Place the shrimp and baking soda in a bowl and mix well to coat. Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes.
2. Place the water and 1 tablespoon salt in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and water-blanch for 10 seconds. Remove the shrimp with a strainer and run cold water through them to cool. The water-blanching removes all of the liquid from the shrimp.
3. Place the shrimp in a dish, sprinkle with cornstarch to coat them lightly, and shake off excess. Heat a wok over high heat for 1 minute, add the peanut oil, and heat to 350 degrees F. Place the shrimp in a Chinese strainer, lower into the oil, and oil-blanch for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, remove with the strainer, and drain. Transfer the oil from the wok to a bowl.
4. Return 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil to the wok and heat over high heat for 20 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the chilies and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, making certain they are well coated, for 1 minute. They should be dry and crusted. Turn off the heat, transfer to a heated platter, and serve.
The Chinese Kitchen
Recipes, Techniques, and Ingredients
from America's Leading Authority on Chinese Cooking
By Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
William Morrow, December 1999
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created February 2000
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