Ginger Garlic Shrimp and Tofu
My sister recently asked me what she should make for dinner with her pantry items because the weather was pretty crappy and she didn't have time for a grocery run. I asked her if she had shrimp (frozen) and tofu to which she replied yes, so I gave her this recipe. The next day she was raving about it.
I, like a good Asian, always keep tofu in the fridge because... why not? Its sealed packaging allows for a generous shelf life and it's so versatile. I also always keep frozen shrimp in the freezer for those gloomy days when it's not worth going outside to get groceries (note that most shrimp in the US is frozen unless you can get your hands on fresh gulf shrimp; the "fresh" ones are usually just defrosted frozen shrimp). So this is one of my go to pantry recipes.
For today's post, I was able to get my hands on beautiful head-on shrimp. If I have a choice, I always buy head and shell on shrimp because the shells make liquid gold aka shrimp stock. In culinary school, we used to get yelled at if we ever threw out the shells. I usually save whatever I've peeled in a ziploc bag and freeze it until I have enough to make a batch of shrimp stock. I then have a flavor bomb stock to use when I'm making shrimp dishes like shrimp and grits. So don't throw away those shrimp shells! The head is the best part like most seafood.
For this dish you don't need shrimp stock, so freeze those shells and heads away. All you need to do is twist the head and peel from the underside of the shrimp. Make sure to take a knife to the spine to make a long shallow incision to remove the vein. Once you've finished cleaning all the shrimp (or if you just defrosted some peeled raw shrimp), marinate it with salt, pepper, egg whites from one egg and corn starch.
The rest of the mise en place is simple. Mince some ginger and garlic, slice some scallions, cut the soft tofu into cubes and beat the yolk from the egg you just cracked for the shrimp marinade and another whole egg. If you're nervous about working quickly, I would also premix the chicken broth, oyster sauce, and soy sauce at this point for the sauce.
Turn on the stove and heat up your wok. You want the wok nice and hot before adding in your canola oil. The hotter the wok and more oil you can bear, the fluffier your egg will be. I usually pour in my egg in the pool of oil and ooh and ahh as it instantly puffs up. Take a wooden spatula (or really anything resembling one) and give the egg a quick mix and you're done. Remove the egg before it's overcooked and reserve on a plate until later use. This should literally take 3 seconds. Remember the egg will continue to cook with residual heat.
Wipe out the wok and head it up because you're using it again. Heat up some oil on low heat and this time fry up the garlic and ginger for a few seconds until aromatic and add in the shrimp with the marinade. Try to get one single layer of the shrimp so you can sear without overcooking. A lot of people overcook shrimp. My trick is to wait until the white opaqueness creeps up almost to the spine, flip and repeat, and remove from the heat with a thin line of translucent shrimp down the spine. That way it will be perfectly cooked with carry over cooking. Remove the shrimp and reserve.
Add the sauce mixture into the wok (this time don't wipe in between) and let it simmer for a few minutes and add in the corn or potato starch slurry to thicken. Add the tofu cubes in and simmer until the sauce is nice and thick. Toss back in the shrimp and egg that you reserved and give it a nice toss. Garnish with scallions and serve with a steaming bowl of rice. Enjoy!