Every recipe I've tried from Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges has been a knockout, including the steamed spicy eggplant I made earlier this year. The best version of this dish uses very little ingredients and can still create an inspired flavor combination. But this one for stir-fried shrimp with tomato sauce—well, it was just okay. I'm just trying to figure out what went so wrong.
I made one major mistake. Trying to be thrifty, I didn't use large shrimp like he specified. I only had medium frozen shrimp, which had to be thawed. Fresh, large shrimp would have been tastier, certainly, but it was too hard to not compare this sauce to the sweet and sour kind poured on fried things at bad Chinese restaurants. After a few shrimp I just got tired of that really syrupy taste.
Not surprisingly, the dish actually suggests making a second sauce—this one creamy and cold—to mix things up. But since I didn't want to invest in preparing two sauces, I just went for the one. That's the last time I mess up a Jean-Georges recipe.
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is the co-founder of The Paupered Chef and spends most of his time playing with the new cooking gadgets he got from his wedding.
- 1/2 egg white
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 tablespoon tomato paste
- Cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt and cayenne pepper
Beat the half egg white with the starch, oil, and salt. Toss in the shrimp and stir to coat.
In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and tomato paste. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until dissolved. Then turn the heat to medium-low, and cook until reduced slightly. Sprinkle in a pinch of cayenne, adding more if you like lots of heat.
In a large skillet, pour enough oil to cover the bottom by one-fourth an inch. Crank the heat to high, and wait until almost smoking. Add the shrimp and cook until pink on both sides and the batter turns golden brown. Times will depend on the size of the shrimp and how hot the oil is. You might need to do this in batches. When done, transfer the shrimp to the tomato sauce. Toss to coat. Serve up with more cayenne if you so dare.
Now for the creamy, cold sauce in question:
Combine mayonnaise, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Whisk until combined. Season with salt and cayenne to taste.