Oct 10, 2015
Hakka-Style Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables | Wok Wednesdays
This Hakka-style stir-fried shrimp and vegetables is such a simple dish, yet it is so delicious. It is symbolic of the Hakka, as Grace Young (2010) describes, "the gypsies of China." They were originally from northern China, were driven out by a multitude of reasons, and forced to settle in an area where they were second class to the Cantonese. In the 1800's they were again forced to leave their homes due to famine, disease, and natural disasters. Many ended up in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, as well as "contract laborers in Hawaii, the Caribbean, South America, North America," and many other places across the globe (Young, 2010).
Their cooking style is simple and uncomplicated, with an emphasis on vegetables. This dish is the perfect introduction to stir-frying, and will show you that a delicious stir fry is totally accessible.... and so healthy. There is a philosophy to eat "until you are 70 percent full." This may have been out of necessity, but it still speaks to the healthiness of the philosophy.
As is the Hakka style, the ingredient list is pretty simple. Shrimp, Napa cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chopped garlic, and broccoli, along with salt and pepper. Besides a little cornstarch, that's it.
One of my favorite parts of this stir-fry is the use of carrot water. The sliced carrots are soaked in water, and then the carrot water is used as if it were a broth to create the sauce in the dish. The stir-fry comes together so quickly. P.S. Your kitchen will not look like a hurricane hit it when you are done!
In the Hakka tradition, we ate this with rice. It was delicious!
The chopped garlic is first stir fried in oil, and then you add the carrots and shrimp. Next you add the sliced Napa cabbage, stir fry it for a short time, and then add the broccoli and cauliflower. Next, you add the salt and pepper, carrot water, and cover it to cook for a bit. Finally, you add the cornstarch and a bit of carrot water and stir fry until the shrimp is cooked through.
To see the ingredients mis en place, visit my friend Cathy's blog.
Wok Wednesdays participants have agreed not to post the exact recipe. You can find it on page 175 of Grace Young's Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge. Do get the book!
For more examples of Hakka-style stir fries, check out this Stir-Fried Cabbage and Egg, and Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango and Chutney.
There's also this hybrid of Hakka and Malaysian cooking, and, oh-em-gee, this simply delicious shrimp.