Happy Shrimp Stir Fry

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Photography Credit: Jaden Hair

Please welcome guest author Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen who shares one of her mother’s favorite dishes for Chinese New Year. ~Elise

Last week, I called my Mom asking for advice on what to cook for Chinese New Year. She rattled off dozens of dishes with commentary on what each dish means, techniques to pay special attention to and specific ingredient requirements.

I furiously scribbled six pages of notes, as this is the most important holiday of the year for many Asians. How you begin the new year is a reflection of how the rest of the year will flow.

And, honey, after the turbulent Year of the Rat last year, I didn’t want to mess it up. (Well, not too badly, anyways.)

This year, Chinese New Year begins on Monday, January 26th, and according to Mom, there are several must-have dishes, with Happy Shrimp Stir Fry at the top of the list.

Shrimp in Chinese is pronounced “haa” which of course, symbolizes happiness as it sounds like laughter. In fact, Mom recited off the recipe for this dish called “Hee-Hee-Haa-Haa” which I’m translating to “Damn Happy Laughin’ Shrimp.”

Or more formally known as “Happy Shrimp Stir Fry.”

Its red color is important, as it is the main color of Chinese New Year, meant to scare away the evil spirits. And, if you think the lettuce and green onion is optional garnish, you are wrong. Mom wants me to make sure that I tell you this shrimp dish must have a contrasting color, especially for Chinese New Year.

She says that everything should be bright, vibrant and colorful….and let me tell you, I never, ever, doubt my Mom when it comes to Chinese traditions and superstitions. Chinese mamas always know best!

Gong Hay Faat Choy!

Happy Shrimp Stir Fry Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

For the sauce (mix together in a bowl)

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For the shrimp

  • 1 pound raw shrimp, deveined
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons canola, vegetable or peanut cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced green onion
  • Handful of shredded iceberg lettuce

Method

1 Toss shrimp with cornstarch: Pat the shrimp very dry and place them in a bowl. Toss with the cornstarch.

2 Fry in hot pan 1 minute each side: Heat a wok or large frying pan on high heat until a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates upon contact.

Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the cornstarch coated shrimp to the wok and spread out in one layer. Let fry untouched for 1 minute.

Flip and fry other side for another minute. Remove the shrimp from the frying pan, keeping as much oil in the pan as possible.

3 Fry garlic and ginger: Return the pan to the stove. Add an additional teaspoon of cooking oil to the pan if needed. When the pan is hot, turn the heat to medium and add the garlic and the ginger and fry for 15-30 seconds until fragrant.

4 Add sauce and shrimp: Pour in the sauce mixture and bring to boil. Add the cooked shrimp back into the wok and let simmer for an additional minute until the shrimp are cooked through.

Serve on bed of shredded lettuce and top with garnish of sliced green onions.

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Jaden Hair

Jaden publishes recipes and drool-worthy food photography at Steamy Kitchen. Born in Hong Kong and raised in North Platte, Nebraska, Jaden's specialty is Asian cooking that's fast, fresh, and simple. Jaden's cookbooks are Healthy Asian Favorites and Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

More from Jaden

Showing 4 of 30 Comments

  • Beth Bilous

    How would I substitute chicken for the shrimp in this recipe please.

    Hmmm. You could try it with thin strips of chicken tenders. No idea how it will turn out. ~Elise

  • Hazel

    Made these tonight – early celebration for Lunar New Year. :) Added stir-fried broccoli instead of iceberg lettuce and it was delicious. Next time I think I’ll replace a third of the ketchup with some Sriracha sauce to add a bit of kick.

  • GwendolynShea

    My fiance and I both love this dish! I tried it out today, and while it wasn’t nearly as crispy as yours looks, maybe I need more cornstarch? I dunno, I’ll have to try it out and see. My fiance has demanded I make this on a regular basis, so I’ll have plenty of time to experiment!

  • Jill

    My favorite dish ever! I make on a monthly basis…best shrimp recipe I have ever had! THANKS!

  • Jilly83

    The smell that you get in your house when making this dish is AMAZING! My husband loves this recipe, and so do I. It is one of our favorites and I will be making this for years to come. If you are unsure, just make it! You will not be sorry. I add a little black pepper and cayenne pepper for a little kick and use more garlic because we love garlic!

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