Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sesame Shrimp (sans deep-frying)

I have yet to discover how "Sesame"-anything on a Chinese restaurant's menu has become synonymous with "deep fried with a sprinkle of sesame seeds"... Maybe something gets lost in translation? I don't know, though. Those geisha are pretty svelte. (I know, I know... That's Japan... an entirely different country.)

Tonight I'm making a far more sensible sesame dish. And I'm not like those recipe books that will lie to you and say, "Oh, this is JUST like take-out." That's a lie. It's always a lie. Take-out is take-out precisely because it's like nothing else -- it's supposed to be a treat, though, not a way of life. Hence the delicate distinction between the Dainty Debutante and the former, Deb-normous one.

So I am pretty sure I lifted the bulk of this recipe from a cookbook, but I did so before I had an inkling about what hoisin sauce was (it's a sweet, sticky sauce a little like honey, usually sold with the other asian condiments in the "ethnic" aisle of the grocery store), or where to find water chestnuts, so I made some big changes in the begining, then went back and replaced some things, and by that point I'd adjusted even other things... so. Sorry, forgotten cookbook, wherever you are. No credit for you!

2 T. hoisin sauce (because of my general idiocy and initial fear of asking for help in a grocery store, I originally used honey and that's a fine substitute. Just know that you will be using 3 T. total. And, hoisin will just make it taste more... Asian.)
2 T. soy sauce (use reduced sodium -- it has fewer calories!)
2 T. Sherry (who in the world actually stocks sherry?! I ask you... I use dry white wine, so there.)
1 T. honey
2 t. cornstarch
1 T. sesame oil (also stranded in the "ethnic" section -- it's darker than most cooking oils, and as soon as it hits the pan, you'll smell the difference. It's what makes a Chinese restaurant smell like a Chinese restaurant.)
1 1/2 lb. Large, ready-to-cook shrimp (i.e. deveined, etc. OR you can cheat and buy a bag of them frozen and literally ready-to-cook -- just thaw them under some cold water for about 10 min. before proceeding)
1 T. ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes (for heat -- if spice makes you ooky, just omit)
1 garlic clove
2 large, chopped scallions (both green and white parts)
1/2 lb. trimmed green beans (this is admittedly the most ridiculous thing I enjoy. There is something wildly appealing to me about snapping beans. I could do it for hours.)
8 oz. can of baby corn, drained.
2 tsp sesame seeds

Why must you be so easy, Sesame shrimp?!

Combine hoisin, soy sauce, "sherry", honey and cornstarch and whisk together for good, thick consistency.

Heat 2 t. of the oil over med. high heat. Let the scent permeate the house -- this is how my husband knows he's getting Chinese for dinner!
Add the shrimp and stir-fry them until just pink, no more than 5 min. Move them to a plate and keep warm.
Add remaining oil to skillet, then ginger, garlic and scallions. Stir-fry for about a minute and then add beans and corn. Stirfry them until beans are bright green (about 3 min.) -- finally stir in that hoisin mix and the shrimp. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until thick, another min. or two. Remove from heat before stirring in seeds and serving.

Serves 4, makes about 5 cups total. About 280 calories per serving, and no more than 4 grams of fat. Ridiculous. Nothing like take-out, but delicious all the same!!

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