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Help me understand a comment in this recipe.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I've been cataloging my home library with an Android app, Book Catalogue. I quite like it, particularly how you scan the ISBN codes with the phone's camera and it looks it up and adds all the details about the book.

 

Today, I did my Chinese cookbooks and set a few aside to go through again. One of those is Homestyle Chinese Cooking by Yan-Kit So. I have a few of her books and have found her recipes reliable, insightful and with a subtle touch in recipes.

 

 

Quote:

Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce

 

In making this dish, the goal is to make the texture of the shrimp crisp. Thus both alcohol and ginger are to be avoided.

 

1 pound medium-sized fresh or frozen raw shrimp in the shell, shelled and deveined

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large green pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

4-5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 fresh red chiles, seed and cut into small rounds (optional)

3 scallions cut into 1 inch sections white and green parts separated

2 tablespoons preserved black beans  mashed with 1-2 teaspoons water 1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water or chicken stock

 

Marinade:

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon egg white

 

Pat the shrimp dry, then add the salt, cornstarch and egg white and stir in the same direction to coat. Leave to stand, covered in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. This process gives the crisp texture looked for when cooked.

 

Heat the wok over medium heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon  of the oil and swirl it around. Add the green pepper and stir for about 2 minutes. Remove to a dis and keep nearby. Wipe dry the wok.

 

Reheat over a high heat until smoke rises. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and swirl it around several times. Add the garlic, let sizzle, then the chiles, white scallions and stir a few times. ADd the mashed black beans, stirring to mix. Add the shrimp and, going to the bottom of the wok with the scoop or a metal spatula, turn and toss fo 30-60 seconds or until the shrimp are partially cooked, becoming pinkish. Lower the heat, pour in the well-stirred dissolved cornstarch stirring as it thickens. Return the green pepper to the wok and add the green scallions, continuing to stir to mix. The shrimp should be fully cooked to a turn by now. Remove to a serving plate and serve immediately.

 

 

 

Her introductory note about alcohol and ginger interfering with crisp shrimp seems like folklore to me but I thought I'd ask. Texture is very important to the Chinese in their food so maybe there's some basis. I don't cook shrimp very often as there are plenty of allergic members among my family and friends so I'll likely not get to experiment on her comments.

 

The marinade is more of a velveting than a battering and the volume of other ingredients and heat in the oil when cooking the shrimp don't really seem to match up to crisping the shrimp nor velveting them There's enough liquid in the finishing glaze to take the crisp out the shrimp coating too.

 

I was also interested to see how often she recommends stirring in only one direction in her dishes. I've seen this before where people think that it helps keep things from curdling such as with dairy in Indian dishes. She does it with her eggs a lot and with ground meat.  I can see where you're not agitating the protein strands to tangle them up with this technique so maybe there's something to that too, but I'm a skeptic on this claim as well.

post #2 of 8

HMMM , that's very interesting, I had never heard this before when she says

" then add the salt, cornstarch and egg white and stir in the same direction to coat"

I know that with adding the eggs to soup it's stir only in one direction, so that the egg will be soft and silky

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My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

She does a few other interesting things as well.

 

With her marinades, she usually stirs in some vegetable oil and sesame oil late in the marinade after things have been sitting for a while already.

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

I was also interested to see how often she recommends stirring in only one direction in her dishes. 

 

I believe that's to avoid incorporating air bubbles into the mixture, which occurs when you keep switching direction as you're stirring. 

post #5 of 8

While I agree with French Fries about that being a possible reason, the other may be so that there is less of a chance of breaking up and damaging the shrimp.  By stirring in one direction there is less chance of really agitating the shrimp and banging them up with your stirring utensil ensuring nice looking shrimp and broken up pieces.

http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post

 

I believe that's to avoid incorporating air bubbles into the mixture, which occurs when you keep switching direction as you're stirring. 


I can see your point with the egg, but I don't think that's it. She does it with all protiens, such as meat mixtures, dumpling fillings, even with the stir fried milk. But that may be a partial answer to my original question.

 

 

Quote:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/09fried.html?_r=0
but most versions of fried milk are essentially the same. Milk, or some form of milk, is turned into a custard with the help of flour, cornstarch and eggs. In some parts of China, milk is curdled with ginger. The custard or curd is then breaded and fried.

 

I'll have to look into the curdling power of ginger as that might be what she was thinking of. Alcohol is acidic and could also curdle some proteins.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow, i had no idea of the curdling power of ginger.

 

http://www.tastehongkong.com/recipes/ginger-milk-pudding-a-natural-custard/

 

So I suppose her comments on ginger and alcohol are to avoid a ceviche-like denaturing and mushiness. Makes me want to try ginger in ceviche now and do an asian ceviche.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Ginger can have a wide range pH it turns out, between 3.5 - 6.0. When you use it for curdling, the instructions are to use older ginger, not young which seems to have the lower pH. Interesting stuff.

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