[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

After discovering a hoard of bright green snap peas at the grocery store, I assembled a snap pea and shrimp stir-fry. I thought I was being really clever, but turns out this combo is one of the most popular stir-fry recipes out there. Not only that, but almost all of them are served in a restrained and slightly gloopy sauce. I could try to create a good version of that recipe, or go in a completely different direction. (I chose the latter.)

Reading through Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty, I came across a technique that I knew would set this stir-fry apart. Briefly listed as a variation for hot-and-numbing tiny fish, there was a recipe for crispy shrimp with salt and Sichuan peppercorn. The shrimp are marinated for 15 minutes, tossed in flour, and deep-fried until golden and crunchy. They are then sautéed quickly with chilies and Sichuan peppercorn. This results in crunchy shrimp, both spicy and numbing.

All I had to do was incorporate the snap peas into the picture. I decided to cook them before the fried shrimp were added back to the pan, along with a handful of bean sprouts. This mostly worked, but since there was no sauce to tie everything together, the peas came off as a little bland. Fortunately, a simple drizzle of soy sauce at the end solved the problem, coating the vegetables in the same addictive blend that adheres so easily to the the shrimp.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.


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