Friday, July 20, 2018

Yang Chow Slippery Shrimp

Yang Chow Restaurant in LA's Chinatown serves an iconic and famous dish called "Slippery Shrimp" that's been a customer favorite for many years. The shrimp are coated in cornstarch and fried briefly until crispy then tossed with a (variably) spicy, garlicky sweet and sour sauce. Although I've never actually eaten at Yang Chow's myself, I wanted to recreate this dish and found a few recipes online that claim to be the original, or close to it. Anyhoo, this is my adaptation of the one from Epicurious - the ingredients are few and simple, and the texture of the shrimp perfectly crispy. I took the extra step of mixing the raw shrimp with some baking soda, soaking it in ice water, rinsing it, then marinating it in egg white and cornstarch before frying. This process makes the shrimp super tender and succulent, a la "Chinese restaurant" style. 

In the LA Weekly's 2012 countdown of their 100 fav restaurant dishes, Slippery Shrimp came in at #63:

63: Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow

2 lbs. medium shrimp, shelled & deveined
4 tbsp. baking soda
Cold water
4 cups ice
1 egg white
2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 cup cornstarch


3 tbsp. ketchup
4 tbsp. rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
4 tbsp. rice wine
6 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup water

Cornstarch Slurry:

2 1/2 tbsp. water
2 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

4 cups vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. minced ginger
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or finely chopped dried Chinese chilies)
4 green onions, sliced

1. Rinse the shelled & deveined shrimp in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Place into a medium bowl and add 4 tbsp. baking soda and massage lightly into the shrimp. Add enough cool water to cover the shrimp and add 4 cups of ice. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. This well tenderize the shrimp and make it succulent (a la Chinese restaurant-style shrimp). 

2. Rinse the shrimp well in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels. Add back to the bowl and combine with 1 egg white and 2 tbsp. cornstarch. Cover and refrigerate; let marinate at least 2 hours or even overnight.

3. For the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Combine the cornstarch slurry ingredients together in a small bowl, then add to the sauce; stir well to combine.

4. Place 1/2 cup of cornstarch in a shallow bowl and dredge the shrimp well on all sides.

5. Heat 4 cups of oil in a deep pan or wok over high heat. Fry the shrimp in batches (do not overcrowd) until crispy and just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the fried shrimp to a paper towel-line plate to drain; continue until all the shrimp are done. 

6. Pour out all except about 3 tbsp. of the oil in the pan and bring up to heat over medium-high. Add the minced garlic and ginger,; stir-fry for a few seconds then add the sauce mixture. Bring up to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened; stir in the red pepper flakes.

7. Add the fried shrimp to the sauce and stir in most of the sliced green onions (reserve about 2 tbsp. for garnish). Plate the shrimp immediately and garnish with the remaining green onions. Serve with steamed white rice. 

After the shrimp has been in the baking soda-ice water mixture for 30 minutes, rinse well.

Pat dry with paper towels.

Add 1 egg white and 2 tbsp. cornstarch and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or even overnight. 

For the sauce: ketchup, rice vinegar, cornstarch slurry, sugar, salt, water, garlic and scallions.

Dredge the marinated shrimp in 1/2 cup of cornstarch.

Fry the shrimp in batches (do not overcrowd in the pan) in oil over high heat, about 3-4 minutes, turning over once, until the shrimp is crispy and just cooked through. 

Drain the shrimp on paper towels.

When all the shrimp is fried, pour out all but 3 tbsp. of oil in the pan and heat over medium high. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds. 

Add the sauce ingredients and boil until thickened. 

Stir in the red pepper flakes. 

Toss the shrimp with the sauce in the pan.

Stir in most of the green onions, reserving a couple tablespoons for garnish. 

Plate the shrimp, garnish with green onions, and serve immediately before the crispy coating loses its texture. Great with steamed white rice on the side. 

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