A few days after making Chinese Kung Pao Chicken, I got a craving again for the spicy, slightly sour taste of the dish. And while kung pao chicken is my preference, it takes a little longer to cook than shrimp. Plus, I had frozen shrimp on hand so any recipe that avoids having to leave the house wins hands down. But since it was late at night when I originally made the recipe, the photos weren't the best. I made it again several months later, but this time my celery supply was a bit low, so I added in a zucchini. I have to say, if you love zucchini as much as I do, it worked really well in a kung pao stir-fry.
While I love the crispness of a deep-fry, in this case, lightly coating the shrimp in cornstarch before pan-frying gave it a nice crunch. Toss in the vegetables, chilies, sauce, and toasted peanuts and the dish comes together in minutes. The key to the flavor is Chinese black vinegar and rice wine, which are much milder than their Western counterparts, but if you need to substitute with what you have on hand, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Chinese Kung Pao Shrimp
For 2 servings as a meal or 4 servings as a side dish, you'll need:
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tblsps corn starch
1 tblsp Chinese black vinegar
1 tblsp Chinese Hsiao Xing rice wine
1 tblsp water
1 tblsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp distilled white vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tsps corn starch
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 stalks celery, cubed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch knob ginger, minced
Dozen dried chilies
I used frozen shrimp, which I quickly defrosted in hot water. If you're using fresh shrimp, make sure you peel and devein them first. Toss with 2 tblsps corn starch and set aside.
In another bowl, add 1 tblsp Chinese black vinegar, 1 tblsp Chinese Hsiao Xing rice wine, 1 tblsp water, 1 tblsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp distilled white vinegar or red wine vinegar, and 2 tsps corn starch. Mix to make sure the corn starch is dissolved. Set aside.
Put 1/3 cup peanuts into a toaster oven for a few minutes.
Dice 2 stalks celery. Slice 2 green onions. Finely mince 3 cloves garlic and a 1-inch knob of ginger.
In a wok or large pan on medium-high heat, drizzle a bit of oil and add the shrimp. Flip when they start to pinken.
The shrimp don't have to be completely cooked as they'll continue cooking in the stir-fry so you don't want them to be overcooked, just to develop a nice golden crust. Add the minced garlic and ginger and toss.
When the garlic has softened, add in the diced celery.
And the green onions or chives and about a dozen dried chili pods or however many you wish.
Toss until evenly mixed.
Then add the sauce.
Toss to evenly mix again. And then add the peanuts after the sauce so they don't get soggy.
Plate and serve fresh while the shrimp are still crunch.
You can even see the steam still rising from the dish.
And here's the later version in much better lighting with zucchini added.
Serve with rice.
Other Chinese American restaurant recipe favorites you might like:
Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry
Chinese Crab Rangoons
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
General Tso's Chicken
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