Flash in the Pan–Kung Pao Shrimp


Flash in the pan: bringing you simple, quick, but not dumbed-down recipes.

This Kung Pao shrimp recipe is adapted from a Kung Pao chicken recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop in her book Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking. I tweaked it by subbing shrimp for chicken, and adding mild, long green chiles, for color and a touch more heat. I also tossed in a pinch more Sichuan peppercorns, because I love that numbing, tingly feeling. You should feel free to up or down the quantity of chiles and peppercorns according to your own heat preference.

I know the ingredient list is long, but I promise you that this goes fast. There’s little chopping involved and once you start stir-frying, the dish is ready in five minutes. And if you don’t have something, just do it without–I didn’t have scallions around, so I used an onion–not ideal, but still good. In fact, this was one of my favorite quick dinners in a long time.

Kung Pao Shrimp
Yield: serves 2-3
Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe for Kung Pao Chicken in Land of Plenty

1 pound shrimp, cleaned and shelled
For the marinade:
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons potato flour or 2 1.4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
For the sauce:
3 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon potato flour, of 1 1/8 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
3 teaspoons chinkiang or black Chinese vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chicken stock or water
For the stir fry:
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
10-12 dried red chiles, such as arbol chiles, broken in half
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon sliced ginger
5 scallions, sliced, white parts only
2 mild long green chiles, sliced
2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

In a small bowl, combine the shrimp with the marinade ingredients, and mix well. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients, and whisk well. Set aside.

In a wok or large frying pan over high heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the chiles and the Sichuan peppercorns, and stir-fry briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices. (You can remove the wok from the heat for a moment if necessary to prevent overheating.)

Quickly add the shrimp with the marinade, and stir-fry over high heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the shrimp have separated from each other and started to curl, add the garlic, ginger, scallions and green chiles. Stir-fry for a few minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and the shrimp are cooked through.

Give the sauce a stir, and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir them in, and serve.