Chef/author Grace Lee says this is one of the easiest dishes to stir-fry and guaranteed to satisfy. And Satisfy it did, with a capital “S”. It is said, with an easily accessible street-food culture and a fresh selection of fruits and vegetables year-round, it’s impossible to go hungry in the island paradise of Trinidad.
This delicious Chinese Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum recipe from Milk Street comes together super-quick, especially if you buy the shrimp already peeled and cleaned. Now I know the directions indicate to leave the shells on, and we usually buy them that way making use of the peeled shells in homemade shellfish stock. (Which we used BTW, in place of water for the steamed jasmine rice.) But truth be told, they had a sale on cleaned extra-large shrimp and we couldn’t pass it up—we did leave the tails on however.
A Trinidadian cooking practice said to remove the “fishy” taste is, before cooking, rinse the shrimp in lime juice. I never heard of this, but decided to go with it—in the end, not sure if I could tell much of a difference.
A couple of notations in the procedures. Grace always directs you to push the minced garlic (and in this case, ginger) to the side after it becomes fragrant. We have found that doing so, especially on such high heat, burns the aromatics so we remove them, reintroducing them to the wok after the shrimp and veggies have been stir-fried.
And about those veggies, we substituted a red bell pepper in place of the green because that’s what we had on hand. I think the dish would work with whatever color bell pepper suits your fancy. The sauce, which we loved, was just fine as is, but if “saucy” is your thing, it wouldn’t hurt to double it. We plan on doing so next time…
Chinese Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum
- 1 lb. large shrimp
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 3 Tbsp. ketchup
- 3 Tbsp. dark Jamaican rum
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
- 2 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 medium ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
- Using kitchen shears, cut through the shrimp shells two-thirds of the length down the back of the shrimp. Remove the legs and devein the shrimp, leaving the shells and tails on.
- In a medium bowl toss the shrimp with the lime juice for a few seconds. Rinse the shrimp, drain, and set on a plate lined with paper towels. With more paper towels pat the shrimp dry.
- In a small bowl combine the ketchup, rum, soy sauce, and ground white pepper.
- Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact.
- Swirl in the oil, add the garlic and ginger, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant.
- Push the aromatics to the sides of the wok, carefully add the shrimp and spread them evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the shrimp begin to sear.
- Sprinkle on the salt and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the shrimp begin to turn orange.
- Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp have turned almost totally orange. (Return the aromatics of garlic and ginger if you removed them earlier.)
- Swirl the ketchup mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the shrimp are just cooked through and the sauce coats the shrimp. Stir in the cilantro.