Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cooking the Book – Land of Plenty – Crispy Shrimp with Salt and Sichuan Pepper (Jiao Yan Su Xia)

Yes, it’s another post from a Fuchsia Dunlop book, this time “Land of Plenty”. I realize it’s repetitive, but her books really are that fantastic. So, with that out of the way, I had a few spare shrimp from making shrimp wonton soup and I was in need of a recipe. Oh so conveniently, Dunlop had a entry in the index called “Crispy Shrimps with Salt and Sichuan Pepper”. It satisfied all the requirements, it used the remaining shrimp and it used ingredients I had on hand.

Like nearly all Dunlop recipes, this one starts with a marinade.

½ tsp salt, 1 tbs Shaoxing wine, a 2 inch piece of unpeeled ginger, and 2 scallions, both the white and green parts make up the marinade. As an extra step the ginger and scallions were both lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver, and then roughly chopped.

I can’t forget the shrimp can I?

There was roughly 10 oz in the bowl, and these were fine, wild shrimp from the Gulf.

While the shrimp marinated for 15 minutes, I got a wok half full of peanut oil heated to 375.

Next the ginger and scallions were removed from the marinade.

The shrimp were left to dry in a colander before they were tossed in flour.

It doesn’t take long to fry shrimp, only 2 or 3 minutes.

They were already looking delicious, but there’s more the recipe.

Something is missing, and that something is Sichuan peppercorns.

I’ve got 1 ½ teaspoons of ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns and 3 ground chilies measured and ready to go.

In another classic cock-up, I followed the recipe for “Hot and Numbing Tiny Fish” (ma la zi yu) instead of the instructions for “Crispy Shrimp with Salt and Sichuan Pepper”. With 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok over medium heat, I added the ground chilies.

In no time at all, the oil was red and fragrant.

So I added the ground Sichuan pepper.

So instead of sprinkling the shrimp with salt and ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, I dumped this spicy oil mixture over the fried shrimp.

I’ll have to admit, as far as cock-ups, this one turned out pretty well. With the hot, spicy oil, the shrimp were fantastic.

Sure the shrimp went soggy in no time at all, but when everything was fresh, it was a delicious mistake. Maybe next time I’ll follow the recipe correctly, but in the meantime, I’ll be content with this satisfying mistake.

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