From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You Tiao + Chinese Drunken Shrimp = You Drunken Chinese Man!!

"So are you going to make the Taco Soup tonight?"

*sigh* "Yeah, I guess so..."

6 hours later... "Hey, Eleyna, you are cooking dinner tonight."

"Okay, what are we having?"

"Taco Soup."

"Okay. What do I do first?"

10 minutes later... "Can I just turn the stove up to 'high' so that we can eat sooner? I don't want to wait for 20 minutes."

20 minutes later, we had dinner.  It was a successful experiment, and all I ended up doing was opening the cans of beans and corn.  Piece of cake.  It is nice to know that with minimal supervision, even our 11 year old can make a tasty meal.

Now, all I have to do is train her on the finer points of cooking.  She has mastered scrambled eggs and taco soup.  Next up? Chinese food.  I will probably test her patience with some variety of Shanghai styled cuisine. 

While Shanghai is one of the largest and prosperous regions of China,  it does not have its own "true" style of cuisine.  Instead, it blends tastes and flavors from surrounding provinces while incorporating cooking elements and ingredients specific to their location. 

One particular element that makes Shanghai Cuisine distinctive is their use of alcohol.  It goes as far as creating labels for their food directly relating to the use of wines and spirits.  "Drunken Shrimp," which uses a native red wine is one of my favorites.  (Here in the Western world, the term is used to describe shrimp that have been marinated in alcohol prior to eating, but the true Chinese interpretation of the meal is best described as eating live uncooked shrimp* that have been "stunned" by immersion in alcohol.)  If live shrimp cannot be found to best make this recipe, then frozen shrimp will suffice. 

*Please note that I am not advocating eating raw or undercooked shellfish, as it can pose a significant health hazard.

Because Shanghai is close to the East China Sea, accessibility to fresh seafood is not a problem.  This access also creates a high demand for dishes including hairy crab and oysters.

My personal favorite food item that is of the Shanghai influence? A nifty, fried bread stick called You Tiao.  (pronounced yo tee-ow.)  Yum... memories of this wonderful breadstick bring to mind trips to San Francisco's Chinatown and seeing  it stacked in bakery display cases and having to make a quick detour into the store to buy some.  Mom would buy it a couple sticks at a time, and if we were lucky, it would last for more than a block as we wandered our way down Market Street.  It was always best when hot, but it went GREAT with rice porridge that had flakes of fresh fish tossed in at the last minute.

I remember one time when my sister and I were really young, (yeah, ages ago) and Mom had bought some You Tiao to go with the won-ton soup that she had made.  (Hey, there is a great idea for the next recipe...)  My sister and I were tasked with cutting the strips of You Tiao, which start out about 24 inches long, into half inch pieces.  We could not help but snack on it while cutting it, and there were times when even Dad would get in on the poaching.  Often, Mom was lucky if half the stick made it to the serving plate.

Sadly, there are no truly authentic Chinese bakeries here in South Texas so I have had to find my own recipe for making You Tiao.  I just hope that it can be replicated as closely as possible to the real thing.  So, for next week's meal? Drunken Shrimp with steamed rice and You Tiao.  Yum...Can't wait...

Until then, Good Eating, Friends...

Colin's Drunken Shrimp

1 pound shrimp, shell on

4 cups water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon vinegar

6 to 8 tablespoons Chinese Cooking Wine or sherry

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 slices fresh ginger root


1. Wash shrimp. Remove legs, leaving shells intact; then devein.

2. Boil water and poach shrimp until pink (about 2 minutes); then drain.

3. Combine soy sauce, sherry and salt; pour over shrimp and toss. Let stand 1 hour, turning occasionally. Drain, discarding marinade.

4. Mince ginger root and sprinkle over shrimp. Also sprinkle vinegar over. Let stand 30 minutes more, turning occasionally; then serve.
(A blend of balsamic vinegar, sesame oil and garlic makes a perfect dipping sauce for these shrimp.)

Colin's You Tiao

*6 c. (1 lbs) high protein flour

*2 c. water

*1 T. baking powder

*2 t. baking soda

*1.5 t. alum

*1.5 t. salt



1. Place ingredients of ammonim bicarbonate, baking soda, alum and salt in a mixing bowl; add water and stir until the ingredients have dissolved. Add flour and mix well; let stand for 15-20 minutes.

Use hand to take some dough from around edges and drop into the center of the dough; let stand for 15-20 minutes. Continue to drop the dough in the center of the bowl 3 or 4 times until the dough is elastic and smooth.

Turn the dough over and lightly coat the surface with oil so that the dough will stay moist. Let it stand for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap; wrap the dough and form it into a rectangular shape. Let it stand for 4 hours. If a large batch is made, cut the dough into several 1.25 lbs. pieces, then wrap each piece in a sheet of plastic wrap.

Unwrap the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough and strech it into a long strip. Roll the dough into a rectangular shape, 3'' wide and 0.1'' thick.

Crosswise cut the rectangular shaped dough into strips, 0.25'' wide.

Put two strips on top of each other; Use a thin rod (skewer) or the back of a cleaver to press lengthwise in middle of the strips; this will attach them securely to each other. Follow the same step for the other strips.

Heat the oil for deep-frying; anout 350 degrees.

 Pick up a strip from the ends and gently stretch it to make it longer. Carefully drop it into the hot oil and turn it over continuously with chopsticks until the crueller expands and turns golden brown; remove.


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