Today’s little appetizer is adapted from a Chinese recipe I first tried many, many years ago. I can’t quite recall where I saw it, but I am fairly sure it is Cantonese. Although it is ‘oil sizzled’ the shrimp are actually first steamed with some aromatics, and hot oil is drizzled over them just before serving to really enhance the flavor. Once you have done the finicky part of ‘prepping’ the shrimp, the process is pretty easy…
- ½ dozen Shrimp (or more , but vary the other ingredients accordingly);
- 2 thin slices of ginger, finely sliced;
- 1 Scallion, sliced into thin rings;
- A splash or two of Soy Sauce;
- Peanut Oil, or other neutral tasting type.
You need shell-on shrimp for this and, if possible, get them with head still attached too. These very pretty ones are a Thai variety and, though I am not completely sure, I think they may be a freshwater type.
First, you need to open up the shrimp lengthwise with a sharp knife. If these were a larger sort, I would probably butterfly them through the back but, with the smaller ones, it is easier to do this along the underside. Once opened, you need to rinse them under running water to rinse them and, if you see a visible, dark ‘sand-vein’, you can pull it out. To flatten them for steaming, put them belly side down and press against the back.
Strew the white and light green parts of the scallion over the bottom of a suitable steaming dish along with the ginger, then splash on the soy sauce;
Now, lay the shrimp down over the aromatics and steam over high heat for about 5 minutes or so until all of the shell is pink. While this is happening, put about a quarter cup of oil into a pan and bring to almost smoking. You won’t need all this oil but it is difficult to heat and pour just a tablespoon, or so, and much easier to heat a little more and save whatever you don’t pour over the shrimp for another use.
When the shrimp are done, scatter over the remaining sections of scallion then pour over enough oil to get everything sizzling. You can, if you like, do this at the table. Either way, serve immediately.
If you are doing much larger shrimp, you may want to add some chopped garlic and maybe a splash of rice wine too (which is the way I usually do it). These small ones are very delicate though and you don’t want to overwhelm the sweetness. Leaving the shell on always enhances the flavor, of course. It makes them messy to eat but they are really, really good.