Today’s recipe for sweet and sour shrimp is a family recipe. Not in the way you traditionally think of family recipes (i.e. passed down either by memory or a handwritten recipe card for generation after generation), but in a very special way nonetheless.
This recipe comes from a book called “The Flavour of Hong Kong” which was printed in 1974. The book was sponsored by Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong Travel Tourism Board and features a selection of 100 recipes from the leading restaurants of Hong Kong.
I love going through the book and seeing restaurants that still exist and thrive today despite Hong Kong’s reputation for having restaurants open and close within a year due to high rental rates.
What makes this book even more special is that it actually belonged to Peter’s Great Aunt Martha. Although Aunt Martha was not a blood-relative she was practically a member of his family and is someone that continues to have an impact on mine and Peter’s lives even after her passing.
We were given the book by Peter’s aunt and uncle, Suzanne and Guy, during our visit to California last year. Having the book passed down from Aunt Martha to Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Guy down to us, sure makes this a family recipe of sorts if you ask me (or I suppose until May this is still future family recipe).
Although I’ve been frying up lumpia for years, I still hesitate to fry at home very often. Not for health reasons, but just because I don’t find it to be terribly convenient (i.e. because I’m a normal person and I hate having hot oil splatter at me).
But I made an exception for this Sweet and Sour Shrimp and I’m so glad that I did. The process of dredging the shrimp before frying it up and tossing it in a homemade sauce was much simpler than I had thought.
And to my surprise the dish really did taste like the familiar restaurant version of Sweet and Sour Shrimp. And not just any restaurant version. This recipe comes from Yung Kee, one of Hong Kong’s most well known restaurants.
I’m sure you’d be hard-pressed to convince Yung Kee to give up any of their recipes these days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this delicious, simple recipe was still the same one they use.
- enough oil to fry
- 1 dozen shrimp/prawns, peeled and cleaned
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 small red chili, thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 tsp spring onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium to high heat until oil is almost smoking
- Coat shrimp in cornstarch and dip in to beaten egg
- Repeat for each shrimp
- Add shrimp one by one to oil
- Fry several shrimp at once, but be careful not to overcrowd pan
- When shrimp are golden brown and cooked through (approximately 5 min), remove from oil and place on a paper towel on a plate to drain
- In a separate sauce pan, mix together water, vinegar, sugar, salt, cornstarch mixture, tomato paste, chili, spring onions, garlic and ground black pepper
- Bring to a boil and continue to stir
- Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes until mixture is thick
- Move shrimp to a clean bowl
- Pour sauce over shrimp and coat well
Recipe from "The Flavour of Hong Kong"