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Crystal Shrimp With Dragon Well Tea

January 25, 2024
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Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

This dish highlights a standard procedure for preparing shrimp to enhance its bouncy texture and coax out its natural salinity and sweetness. First, the shrimp is washed thoroughly in salt and baking soda, to tighten its texture. Second, the shrimp is velveted in egg whites and starch to provide a coating that’s slippery and protective. Finally, the shrimp is poached at a relatively low temperature to gently cook the shrimp without overcooking and shocking its flesh.

This procedure can be used for a variety of dishes, but one dish that best highlights the nuance of its taste and texture is Crystal Shrimp with Dragon Well Tea. Derived from Zhejiang cuisine, this dish is an emblem of the culinary ethos that defines the region: a devotion to freshness, balance, and subtlety of flavor. When done properly with small river shrimp, the cooked shrimp is almost translucent, hence the name. Paired with Dragon Well Tea, or longjing 龍井, from the verdant hills surrounding Hangzhou, the shrimp picks up the tea’s gently sweet, slightly grassy flavor profile. The result is a harmonious balance of umami, sweet, and slightly bitter notes. —Lucas Sin

What You'll Need
  • 300 grams shrimp, (preferably river shrimp, deveined)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Shaoxing wine, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) corn starch or potato starch
  • 5 grams dried dragonwell tea leaves
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola
  1. Prepare the shrimp by checking that each shrimp is properly deveined. Wash in cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain and massage in salt and baking soda. Let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse very well in running water to get rid of excess salt and baking soda flavor. Dry the shrimp thoroughly. In a mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, egg white, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, and starch. Mix the shrimp well until the liquids are smooth and emulsified. Continue mixing until the egg white begins to froth and the shrimp feels tacky to touch.
  2. In a medium pot, bring water to a bare simmer, about 176°F/80°C. Drop the shrimp into the water and slowly poach, mixing consistently, maintaining a simmer until the shrimp barely turns color, about 1 minute. Remove with a spider and drain.
  3. Briefly soak the dragonwell tea: pour hot water from a kettle or a pot over the tea leaves to wet but do not let them open.
  4. To finish the dish, heat a skillet or a wok with oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the poached shrimps and toss until coated in oil, about 5 seconds. Add the soaked tea leaves and the remaining Shaoxing wine. Toss and let the alcohol evaporate. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and sugar if necessary. Serve warm.

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