Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Pin It A couple of years ago, while I was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, I developed a strong urge for Chinese food...go figure. I have never seen this symptom posted on any of the cancer help boards, so it must have been indiginous only to me. One night, the urge was so strong I put on my head scarf and my daughter took me to the best Chinese restaurant in town. Now, I will admit that both of us are Chinese food snobs, my daughter having moved from San Francisco and I from New York City. The food was mediocre at best, the tab ... well, shall we say that never again. I am the type of person who doesn't mind paying $25 for an unbelievable hamburger but hates to pay $4 for a bad one.

I came home that night, got on Amazon, and ordered a couple of Martin Yan's cookbooks and a wok. I have been cooking Chinese ever since. The secret to cooking Chinese food is to get everything ready, including the chopping, the sauce and the marinade.

Most Chinese food consists of four steps..marinade the meat, stir fry it, stir fry the vegetables, add the sauce and its done. Most of the things I've cooked from his cookbooks and others have not taken any more than 1/2 hour from beginning to end, with the bulk of the time spent on preparation before cooking. The cooking time is less than 5 minutes! It is imperative, however, to have the basics on hand (soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, cornstarch, oil etc.) to make this a painless experience. In this case, I did not have chilis in the refrigerator, but I did have red pepper flakes in my well stocked pantry.

Chinese food is the ideal meal for a Saturday night. This afternoon, after a hectic day, I went to the store at 5:30 and by 7:30 pm we were already finished with dinner. By the time the white rice was finished cooking, and the salad made, the shrimp was ready to go on the wok. Four
minutes later it was done and ready to serve. How quick can that be!

So, get yourself a good wok, a Martin Yan's cookbook to start with and go for it. You'll be glad you did!

Serves 2


3/4 lb large peeled deveined shrimp, tails intact
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 dried red chilies


1 Place shrimp in a medium bowl and sprinkle with cornstarch and salt. Toss the shrimp and let stand for 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Stir the soy sauce, ketchup, honey, and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl.

3 Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok. add shrimp and stir-fry until pink, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and chiles and cook about 30 seconds. Add the sauce and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 30 seconds. Serve.

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