Vietnamese Ginger Shrimp Stir Fry Recipe

Vietnamese Ginger Shrimp Stir Fry Recipe Recipe

Tôm xào gừng is Vietnamese-style sautéed shrimp. As a little girl, Maman would make this dish very often whenever she needed to throw together a quick dinner, because shrimp cooks very fast. This particular preparation has touches of sweet and spicy in the form of ginger, lychee and chile. The ginger is used both grated and cut into small matchsticks. This is not traditional, but I also added lychee jam that I had in my pantry and finished the cooking by flambing the shrimp in lychee-flavored liqueur.

Cooking shrimp is always a delicate task. First, you have to make sure the shrimp are extremely fresh. Then, the cooking time has to be precise so as not to over-cook, otherwise they become horrible and very chewy. Lastly, the flavors that are paired with the shrimp should season them well without concealing the freshness of the seafood. This recipe definitely hits the mark, but don't just take my word for it!

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

1-¼ pounds raw large shrimp
½ cup Kosher salt
2 tablespoons palm sugar, freshly grated
2 tablespoons red chili powder
1 (5-inch) chunk fresh ginger
1-½ cups lychee liqueur
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons canola oil
1-½ tablespoons lychee jam
½ teaspoon salt
1 lime, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon dried fried shallot (store-bought), slightly crushed
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon cilantro or green onions, for garnish


Directions

For the ginger: Clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Grate about 1 inch of ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut the ginger into slices, lengthwise then julienne them into matchstick-like pieces.

Prepping the shrimp:

Remove and discard the head of the shrimp if it's still attached. Carefully shell and de-vein the black part of the shrimp using a sharp hook-like paring knife, all the way from the head to the tail so when it's cooked, the shrimp will open up like a butterfly. Make sure to remove the tip of the tail (the shell that covers the tail) as well; this part is very delicate. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and pat dry using a paper towel. Repeat the same procedure for each shrimp. These steps are tedious but essential for good results.

Marinating the shrimp:

In a large bowl, dissolve the palm sugar in 1 cup water, then combine the liquid with the shrimp, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon julienned ginger, Kosher salt, red chili powder and 1 cup lychee liqueur. Let stand for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Drain the shrimp and pat dry using paper towels. There should be as little liquid as possible.

Cooking ginger shrimp:

Warm the remaining lychee alcohol a few seconds in the microwave.

In a large, heavy-bottom pan, heat the oil for about 1-2 minutes over high heat. Add the rest of the garlic and remaining julienned ginger. Cook until fragrant.

Season the shrimp with salt.

Place the shrimp in the pan one piece at a time. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until seared on one side, then start stir-frying the shrimp for another minute (if the pan is not large enough, you could stir-fry the shrimp in batches). The shrimp will start to open up like a butterfly. Add the warm lychee liqueur. Immediately light the alcohol and allow to cook until all the flames disappear. It's not as scary as it seems!

Note: When flaming alcohol, I'm always very cautious and have a fire extinguisher within reach.

Add the fried shallots, lychee jam and drizzle with lime juice. Stir well. Sprinkle with black pepper. Turn off the heat and transfer to a platter.

Garnish with cilantro or green onions.

Serve with rau muống (my favorite Vietnamese greens) and steamed jasmine rice on the side.

Bon appétit!


Tips

The lychee jam I used is from Fauchon, the French equivalent of Dean and Deluca. If you don't have any, you could replace it with sugar, honey or other preserves.

I used Soho brand lychee liqueur (you can find it at BevMo in little bottles). I'm a wimp when it comes to flaming alcohol. If you have long hair like me, put it in a bun! You have to act quickly and have good reflexes. Once you add the alcohol to the pan, don't delay the lighting. You don't want the food to absorb the raw alcohol and retain a strong alcohol flavor. Another important thing is that alcohol's boiling point is 175°F (much lower than water); if you boil liqueur, you won't be able to flame it and it will just burn off the alcohol from the liqueur.

dried fried shallots

I buy dried fried shallots at the Asian store. It's crunchy and very strong in flavor. You can also make your own by frying thinly sliced shallots if you like.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on October 14, 2010.


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