Hakka-Style Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables is such a simple dish, and is symbolic of the Hakka people, “the gypsies of China.” Come to find out, these folks have a marked cuisine and style of Chinese cooking which is little known outside the Hakka home. It concentrates on the texture of food—the hallmark of their eats. Pragmatic and simple, the fare is garnished lightly with sparse or little flavoring. If only we had realized that beforehand…
“Hakka” was new culinary terminology to us. Found in Grace Young’s “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” it caught our interest, so we bought all of the necessary ingredients but neglected to read through the directions. Had we done so, we would have known there was very little spice other than garlic, or anything to make a sauce, resulting in a dish too dry to serve over rice—at least in our humble opinions.
Chok full of vegetables (this appealed to us), and according to Grace, only a modest amount of shrimp by Western standards—a half pound. We doubled it to one pound of shrimp, and recommend that you do too.
The chopped garlic is first stir-fried in oil, and then the carrots and shrimp are added. Next you toss in the sliced Napa cabbage, stir-fry it for a short time, and then incorporate the broccoli and cauliflower. Salt, pepper, and carrot go in next, covering 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.
Now about the sauce dilemma. In a search through our pantry, I came across three flavoring packets from Saffron Road. The one that seemed to fit the occasion best was the Korean Stir-Fry Simmer Sauce. We always try to keep some prepackaged mixtures on hand which come in handy when you have little time to prepare anything from scratch.
Slicing the napa cabbage cross-wise into 1-inch pieces.
Hakka-Style Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables
- 1 C thinly sliced carrots
- 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chopped garlic
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and patted dry
- 2 C Napa cabbage, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide pieces
- 1 1/2 C small bite-size broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 C small bite-size cauliflower florets
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
- Prepared Asian sauce
When real hot, stir in the oil, add all of the garlic, and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the carrots stir-frying for one minute until the garlic just starts to turn brown.
After the shrimp and cabbage, add broccoli and cauliflower and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until broccoli begins to turn bright green.
We heated up a packaged stir-fry mix from Saffron Road for more flavor and a wetter consistency.
- Soak the carrots in about one cup ice cold water for one hour.
- In a small bowl combine 1 tbsp. of the carrot soaking water with the cornstarch.
- In another small bowl measure 1/3 cup of the carrot water. Drain the carrots, shaking out any excess water.
- Heat wok over high heat. When real hot, stir in the oil, add all of the garlic, and stir-fry for 20 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the carrots stir-frying for one minute until the garlic just starts to turn brown.
- Add shrimp, stir-fry for 30 seconds. Next add cabbage, stir-fry until it starts to wilt, about 30 seconds.
- Add broccoli and cauliflower and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until broccoli begins to turn bright green.
- Sprinkle on the salt and pepper, swirl in the reserved 1/3 cup carrot water, and stir-fry until just combined.
- Cover and cook 30-60 seconds. Uncover, restir the cornstarch mixture, swirl into wok, and stir-fry 30 seconds.
- If you are adding a sauce, remove all ingredients to a bowl. Pour your sauce mixture into the hot wok and swirl for a minute or so, add back the other ingredients, and stir until combined. Serve over rice.
Adapted from Grace Young’s cookbook “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge”