Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas

This Cantonese-style dish, from Chinese cooking expert Eddie Schoenfeld, involves coating and marinating the shrimp in a mixture of sherry, egg white, salt, cornstarch, and oil, which gives them a luscious consistency. Before cooking the shrimp, Schoenfeld tosses them in ice water and salt to firm them up. He also prefers to thicken the sauce with potato starch, which produces a lighter result than cornstarch—a trick he learned from professional Chinese chefs.

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas
This Cantonese-style dish, from a Chinese cooking expert, is light and luscious.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3⁄4 lb. medium shrimp, such as Gulf of Mexico white, peeled, deveined, and halved lengthwise
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 1⁄2 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 3 cups peanut oil
  • 1⁄4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. potato starch, mixed with 1 tbsp. water
  • 1⁄2 tsp. sugar
  • 1⁄4 tsp. white vinegar
  • 4 canned water chestnuts, rinsed and halved
  • 1⁄4 lb. snow peas, strings removed
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, cut crosswise into 1⁄3" pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1" pieces ginger, peeled and thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1⁄2 tsp. sesame oil

Instructions

  1. To marinate the shrimp: Put shrimp, 1 tbsp. salt, and 2 cups ice-cold water into a large bowl and toss well; drain. Pour 1 cup clean ice-cold water over shrimp and repeat; drain. Pat shrimp and bowl dry; return shrimp to dry bowl. Add 1⁄4 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp. sherry, 1⁄8 tsp. pepper, and egg white; mix with your hands until evenly coated and the egg white is dispersed. Add cornstarch and 2 tsp. peanut oil and toss well. Transfer shrimp to another bowl, discarding any marinade that clings to original bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Mix remaining sherry, remaining salt, remaining pepper, stock, potato starch, sugar, and vinegar together in a bowl. Set sauce mixture aside.
  3. Heat 3 cups peanut oil in a wok over medium-high heat until oil reaches 300° on a deep-fry thermometer. Carefully add shrimp and gently stir until shrimp turn white, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a strainer set over a medium pot. Let oil in wok reach 350°, then add water chestnuts and cook, stirring constantly, for 20 seconds. Add snow peas and cook for 2–3 seconds, then quickly and carefully pour entire contents of wok (vegetables and oil) into the strainer with the shrimp, allowing oil to drain into the pot below; discard oil when cool.
  4. Wipe out wok and heat remaining peanut oil over high heat. Add scallions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds. Add reserved sauce mixture; stir constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens, 20–30 seconds. Return shrimp and vegetables to wok and toss quickly. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve immediately.