Happy Shrimp Stir Fry

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!

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Happy Shrimp Stir Fry Recipe

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

2 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 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 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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Happy Shrimp photo by Jaden Hair

30 Comments

  1. Trish in MO

    I love when you visit, Jaden! I am always interested in learning about new cultures and traditions, especially Asian ones, so I am glad you included some of that insight to the dish for us as well!

    We all love shrimp in my family, so this is definitely a MUST DO!

    QUESTION: Jaden, can the shredded iceburg kettuce be substituted with something else, without ruining the integrity of the dish?

  2. Nate

    Very simple recipe!

    Jaden, didn’t I read somewhere that you liked to start your garlic in cold oil, to let the garlic flavor infuse the oil better or something?

    Yes, but it depends on what I’m cooking and how strong of a garlic/ginger flavor I want. For vegetables, definitely start cold oil, cold wok. ~jaden

  3. Karen

    I made this tonight in honor of Chinese New Year. It was fantastic. My family loved it. Good thing I doubled the recipe! The lettuce was a great addition and complimented the shrimp perfectly. I’d love to know what other dishes your Mom would serve with this dish. Thanks for sharing this fun recipe. Hee-Hee-Haa-Haa indeed!

    Gong Hay Fat Choy!

  4. Paul

    Does the sauce call for raw sesame or toasted sesame oil? Even a tsp. makes a big difference in terms of flavor.

    Toasted! ~jaden

  5. sandy

    Great recipe! I made it last night with many snide comments about the addition of ketchup, but o my, no leftovers! thanks!

  6. Cosnshn

    Don’t forget any Asian dish should be served with Jasmine Rice only! Ha! Ha! I learned that from my Asian daughter in law. This sounds like a great dish. I have lots of frozen shrimp in my freezer. The suggestion of sesame sauce is a great one too. I’ll make it soon.

  7. Mely

    This looks really easy to make. Just last night my friend from China was telling me about all the great dishes they cooked Sunday to celebrate the Chinese New Year and their traditions. Next year I will make sure to add to my own celebrations.

    Thanks both for this great recipe.

  8. Jeanine

    Sounds great! Some questions: Did you leave the shells on? Are you supposed to eat the shells afterwards or remove them? I’ve had dishes in restaurants where it seemed as though we were intended to eat the shells, but they were too tough–can you still make the dish with shelled shrimp?

    Thanks!

    Yes, I love shell on shrimp! But of course it’s a personal preference. Feel free to use shell on or shell off. ~jaden

  9. Gail

    This was well received, even by my fussy teenager. I added some asparagus that I needed to use up, and served it with Jasmine rice, yum!

  10. MeeMaw

    This is a great recipe. Dusting the shrimp with cornstarch first is a wonderful way to prepare shrimp. It also works on chicken and pork. The key is thin slices of meat. I prepare the beef for broccali beef the same way. Thanks for sharing this family favorite

  11. Lu

    Question for Jaden: This recipe looks great. My question is that I do indeed use peanut oil for stir fry. But, I am wondering if avocado oil can be used as an alternate since it, too, has a high heat point. Thanks!!

    Yes, you can use avocado oil. It’s pretty expensive, no? ~jaden

  12. Paula

    We had this wonderful dish for dinner last night with jasmine rice and stir fried snow peas flavored with garlic and ginger. The shrimp are absolutely delicious. The sauce is divine. We’re bound to have a happy and prosperous New Year as a result! Thanks very much for providing the recipe.

  13. Carol

    Oh my god, hooray for Happy Shrimp! Simply divine. I love shrimp, but even more now. For the last 3 days I have been making them for my friends and coworkers they all love it.. Praise and praise up the oiseau! Did not change anything, did it exactly. Again, simply wonderful, divine., to me purrrfect. Thank you and thank you to your mom. Happy new year.

  14. Ellen

    Hey out there in blog land-when will poor little rice oil get some due in high temperature cooking. This recipe looks great and I will be making it tomorrow. Thanks Jaden and Elise-enjoy both of your writings and recipes!

    Rice oil, grapeseed oil, tea seed oil, all great for high temp cooking. Good alternatives to canola oil, though a bit harder to come by. ~Elise

  15. Amanda

    You know, it’s funny…I usually don’t like shrimp much but I’ve really been enjoying your recipes that you’ve posted up here Jaden! It just might be time for me to change my ways and try some happy shrimp or Shrimp fried rice!

    I wanted to drop you a line here because I would love to see an ‘authentic’ but manageable home version of egg foo young. It’s one of my favorites, if done right…and I’d love to know if you have any pointers!

    Thank you – I think I’ll have a slightly belated Chinese New Year celebration this weekend and make some of your pot stickers too!

  16. Jeanne

    Happy shrimp – I like that! What a great way to start off the new year :)

  17. Kari

    I made this tonight for myself and my boyfriend. He was in charge of assembling the sauce, and some Sriracha found its way in there because he loves his food spicy. I also tossed in a few bits of broccoli and snow peas because we don’t eat enough veggies around here. Thankfully the additions didn’t harm the dish – we LOVED it! Thank you so much for your recipes, Jaden, they make this white girl feel like she can actually cook Asian food :).

  18. Ruth

    Very disappointed in this recipe. Sorry.

  19. Cara

    I LOVED this recipe. It was so simple to make, and my BF could NOT figure out what was in the sauce until I told him. I made this with some veggie fried rice, it was fantastic! Thanks for a great recipe. I’m trying to get more into Chinese cooking, and these recipes are easy enough that I can try things to see what I like and don’t like. Thanks again!

  20. LGarrison

    Hello Jaden and Elsie,

    I actually made these a couple of weekends ago and my whole family loved it (except for my son because he was not feeling well). I doubled the recipe and it turned out great. The mistake I made was buying the shrimp with it’s shell on. What a bummer :0 So, tonight, I am going to make them again (without the shell) and I am excited. This is really a great recipe! Jaden please keep your recipes coming (of course Elsie I totally love all of your recipes:)

    Thanks,

    Lachanda

  21. corinna

    I just wanted to tell you that this is one of my family’s favorite’s. I’ve had to make it twice in one week they loved it so much. If you have any more shrimp recipes i’d love to have them. Thanks for sharing, Corinna

  22. Lindsay

    I made a couple of days ago, and unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be making it again. The ketchup flavor was too pronounced for my taste (even though I followed the recipe exactly, and used a regular nationally available ketchup brand). It wasn’t bad, exactly… it just wasn’t good, either. Sorry.

  23. Abigail

    This recipe is probably the best shrimp recipe I have ever made! I would put twice as much ginger as what is called for, and just for a variation, I think it would be good with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

  24. amber renee

    Ohhhh! Submitted this site to stumble upon — GREAT post. I had Happy Shrimp for dinner and it was perfect!

  25. Jilly83

    Absolutely wonderful!! So easy and sooo delicious. My husband loved this. I am going to be making it again. I added a little salt, black pepper, and cayenne because we like spicy foods. Thank you for this recipe Jaden & good luck with your cookbook. I will be buying it!

  26. 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!

  27. Jill

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

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. 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

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