Why pepper, chilies and ginger? Why not just use one of them to provide the heat in this seafood dish? Because pepper, chili and ginger have different flavors which, together, give the dish nuance.
What is plum sauce? Plum sauce in jar is available in the Asian aisle of better groceries. Several brands offer it; I prefer Lee Kum Kee (no, this is not a sponsored post).
The sesame seeds are optional. If you decide to add them as garnish, it doesn’t really matter if you use white or black or brown. What’s important is that you toast them before sprinkling on the dish. Otherwise, although they will add color, they won’t impart any distinguishable flavor and aroma.
As with most stir fried dishes, the prep time is longer than the cooking time. Shrimps take such effort and time to peel and devein but they cook in just a few minutes. I urge you not to overcook them. When done right, shrimps are tender and succulent, naturally sweet and utterly delicious.
Shrimps with plum sauce
- 500 grams shrimps - 10 to 12 large pieces, peeled and deveined
- finely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns - toasted in an oil-free pan
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 small carrot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 half-inch knob ginger
- 2 bird’s eye chilies
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- rice vinegar
- rice wine
- soy sauce
- ¼ cup plum sauce
- finely sliced scallions - to garnish
- toasted sesame seeds - to garnish
- Place the peeled and deveined shrimps in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper. Toss.
- Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the Szechuan peppercorns to a powder.
- Deseed the bell pepper and dice.
- Peel the carrot and cut into thin slices.
- Peel and mince the garlic.
- Peel and finely chop the ginger.
- Finely slice the chilies.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok.
- Saute the powdered Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, ginger and chilies for about one to two minutes.
- Turn up the heat. Add the carrot and bell pepper to the wok. Sprinkle in a little salt and black pepper. Stir fry for a minute.
- Add a generous splash each of rice vinegar and rice wine, and a tiny drizzle of soy sauce.
- Stir in the plum sauce and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
- Throw in the shrimps. Toss the shrimps in the sauce for two to three minutes, or just until done.
- Scoop the shrimps and sauce into a bowl. Garnish the Szechuan shrimps with plum sauce with toasted sesame seeds and finely sliced scallions before serving.