Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CSA week ten - Szechuan shrimp and scallion stir-fry

This is an exceptionally simple recipe from my favorite purveyor of exceptionally simple recipes, Mark Bittman. Here's his introduction:
"It isn’t often that I stumble across a dish that’s minimalist in every aspect: quick, simple, requiring few ingredients and yet sophisticated, or at least unusual. This stir-fry, a mixture of shrimp, scallions and not much else, is one of those."

Oh, I didn't notice that weaseling before. Unusual. That's a big step down from sophisticated. Well, I've already got the shrimp defrosted, peeled and deveined so I might as well go ahead and see how it turns out.

He tried a half dozen variations that detracted from the dish; maybe I can find an improvement he passed by. I suspect it's going to involve chili oil.

2 store (or 1 CSA) bunches scallions, cleaned
1 garlic clove, peeled
3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon black bean sauce
1 teaspoon Guilin chili sauce

1. Roughly chop 1/4 of the scallions. Chop the rest into 3- to 4-inch lengths.

2. Boil a pot of salted water and blanch the lengths of scallion for 1 minute. Remove to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Put in a food processor with the garlic and a little of the blanching water. Blend until smooth.

3. Heat oil in wok or large pan over high heat. After a minute or so add the sauces. Stir and cook briefly until they become fragrant. Add the shrimp, toss and cook until almost fully cooked, 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, add the cilantro and the chopped scallion, toss, add the scallion purée. Stir, check for seasoning and serve with rice.

Oh yeah, that's some good stuff. The fresh bright bite of the scallion and the rich butteriness of the shrimp are the stars, but the sauces I added give it some subtle extra dimension and just enough of a savory backbone to tie it all together. Really tasty.

I think I missed out on sophisticated though. And it reminded me of Chinatown-standard scallion sauce so it wasn't all that unusual. Now I'm wondering what I missed by not making it straight.

1 comment:

kat said...

Standard or not it looks really great, love the bright green in the dish