Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bye Bye Chinese take-out!

I made only one real resolution this year. The rest are still in my head because if I wrote them down I'd actually have to follow through and what fun would that be?
This year, Sam and I made a joint resolution to eat out no more than twice a month(this includes take-out). There have been times when we really couldn't afford to eat out but now that we have a little wiggle room, it's all too tempting to take the easy way out when I'm tired and hungry at the end of the day. Since eating out is one of our favorite activities, we are bad influences on each other and as soon as one of us brings up the idea, the other has a coat on and is heading out the door.
I need some easy recipes. I have no problem spending hours in the kitchen, making elaborate dishes from scratch but I'm not very good at the throw-dinner-together-in-20-minutes-or-else- we're-going-out type fare. This recipe for Kung Pao shrimp is my new best friend.

Kung Pao Shrimp

from The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 lbs. peeled raw shrimp
3 Tbsp. oil
5 small dried chiles
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 c. roasted peanuts, chopped

Mix together the cornstarch and wine. Marinate the shrimp in this mixture while you prepare the other ingredients. Heat oil in a wok. Add the chiles and stir until they begin to blacken. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook until they are pink. Add the sugar and soy sauce and cook for 5 minutes, until the sauce has cooked down a little and the shrimp are evenly coated. Turn off the heat and stir in the soy sauce. Serve with rice and garnish with scallion and peanuts. We had this with an eggplant-edamame dish but it would be great with simple wilted spinach with sesame oil, tamari and toasted seeds.


At 7:22 AM, Anonymous suey said...

My sister Julie's coming tonight for a visit and i'm totally going to make this for her one night. Looks yummy and easy- perfect for when you want to make something tasty but also want to spend time with your guest. thanks!

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

That's a good resolution. We live in Evansville, and there are only 2 decent restaurants there, so we're not as tempted to go out as we were when we lived in Madison. Except for breakfast.. we go to the local cafe and it's just so cheap!

At 8:04 AM, Blogger allisonmariecat said...

Homemade Chinese is something I rarely's so much faster for Hong Kong Cafe to bring it, and I only have ginger on hand when I'm planning something specific...but I might have to try this with tofu. It looks fantastic.

Do you keep ginger around? How should I store it? Mine always dries out in the fridge.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Joe said...

That's damn good.

Try the Ginger Chicken stirfry from the same book. I'm sure I told you about it, but it's totally one of my go-to recipes when I'm starved.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger lee said...

suey- I'm glad you tried it and liked it. Now I have to work on the variations we talked about.

crystal- Mmm... good, cheap breakfast. That's my weakness too!

allison- I know but I am telling you, this is quick and much more tasty than most chinese take-out I've had in this town. I bet the tofu version would rock! I find that ginger lasts a long time if you put it in a plastic bag. Sometime a cut end will get moldy but just cut it off and you are good to go. I once read somewhere that the best way to store ginger is to bury it in a house plant! It may even make new shoots. It seemed like WAY to much of a pain in the ass to dig it up when I wanted to use it though!

Joe- Why yes, it is. I tried the ginger chicken the next night and it was another winner. Thanks for the tip! I think I have a little crush on Mark Bittman (or at least this cookbook!)

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Miriam said...

Kung pao is so great for fast weeknight awesomeness. I use the Cook's recipe. It's a little more complicated (but barely), and I usually just make a double of the sauce base and freeze it for the next time. Chicken thighs work really well as a substitute for the shrimp, and a lot cheaper - unless you're at the co-op :D.

I'll try this version, and promise to not sing "Everybody was kung-pao fighting" while cooking.


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