I remember all those decades when I couldn’t eat shrimps because of a bad allergy. These days, I can’t seem to get enough of them. I cook shrimps almost as often as I cook fish.
While nothing compares to fresh shrimps, if you don’t have the time or energy to peel and devein them, or if you have no use for the shrimp heads and shells (that is, if you haven’t discovered the joys of making shrimp broth from scratch), you can buy frozen whole shrimps in the grocery.
The upside of using frozen whole shrimps? The prep time is cut down to a fraction. You also get better texture because frozen whole shrimps have been treated to make them more springy.
The downside? You don’t get all the shrimp flavor that only goes with fresh shrimps. In the end, it’s really up to you which to use, fresh or frozen.
Once you have decided what kind of shrimps to use, you need to season and marinate them. Place the shrimps in a bowl, add ginger, rice wine, salt and pepper, and mix.
If using dried wood ears, rehydrate in warm water. Otherwise, simple rinse, trim and cut into bite-size pieces. Dice them or julienne, it’s up to you.
Whether or not to peel the cucumber is really a matter of choice. My rule is that if the skin is thin, I leave it on. If too thick for my mouth feel, I peel and discard. The cucumber has to be split lengthwise, the seeds scraped off and discarded, and sliced thinly.
Once you have prepped the shrimps, wood ears and cucumbers, you may start cooking. Lightly coat the bottom of your pan with oil and pour in your eggs to which a little soy sauce had been whisked in. Stir the eggs so that soft lumps form. While still wet at the top, scoop out the egg and move to a plate.
Add more oil to the pan and spread the shrimps in a single layer. Cook for half a minute before stirring. Add the cucumber slices and drained wood ears, and stir fry for another half a minute.
Put the eggs back in, pour in your sauce, stir and cook just until the sauce thickens and clings to every piece of solid ingredient in the pan.
Moo shu shrimp
- 24 medium shrimps - peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger - or finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon Shao Xing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 eggs - beaten with a teaspoon of soy sauce
- ½ cup diced or sliced wood ears - if using dried, measure rehydrating in warm water
- 1 cucumber - seeds discarded and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup shrimp broth - or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sesame seed oil
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- Press the shrimps between stacks of paper towels then dump into a bowl.
- Add the salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, Shao Xing rice wine and corn starch. Mix well. Set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a frying pan or wok.
- Pour in the egg-soy sauce mixture and stir as it cooks. When firm but still wet at the top, scoop out and transfer to a plate.
- Pour the remaining cooking oil into the pan and heat.
- Spread the shrimps on the hot oil and cook without disturbing for 30 seconds.
- Stir the shrimps, add the cucumber slices and wood ears, and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
- Return the cooked eggs into the pan.
- In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce then pour into the pan.
- Stir and leave to cook until the sauce is thick and no longer cloudy.
- Enjoy your moo shu shrimp with rice.