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 chiles 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 shrimp.
- 1 pound medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-inch piece ginger, minced
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped green onions, divided
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus about 1 quart more for deep frying
- 4 ounces snap peas, ends trimmed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 3 Sichuan red chiles (or arbol chiles), ends trimmed, seeds removed, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together shrimp, rice wine, salt, ginger, and half green onions. Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring mixture occasionally.
Discard ginger and green onions, and toss shrimp in a colander to drain. Add flour to a large bowl. Toss shrimp in the bowl until evenly coated in flour.
Pour enough oil into a wok to come 2 inches up the sides. Heat oil over high heat to 375°F (180°C), then adjust heat to maintain that temperature. Shake excess flour off shrimp and add as many to the wok as will fit in one layer. Cook until golden brown and crispy, flipping halfway through, about 2 minutes total. Drain shrimp on paper towels. Repeat process with remaining shrimp.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil. Heat oil over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add snap peas and stir-fry until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.
Add bean sprouts, Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, and remaining green onions. Stir-fry until mixture is very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and soy sauce, and stir-fry until everything is mixed together and hot.
Serve immediately with white rice on the side.